Is Lake Urmia on fast track to total restoration?

May 11, 2019

TEHRAN — Kiumars Daneshjoo, CEO of West Azarbaijan regional water company, said on Saturday that two billion cubic meters of water is released from the dams surrounding the Lake Urmia increasing the volume of water at the lake to more than 5.3 billion cubic meters.

On April 24, Daneshjoo announced that the volume of water at the Lake Urmia has increased to 4.1 billion cubic meters which showed a 2-fold increase compared to the same date last year.

And now the volume of water at “the turquoise solitaire of Azarbaijan” has increased by almost 3 billion cubic meters compared to the same period last year, ISNA news agency reported.

Owing to the substantial precipitations received in the lake catchment area since the beginning of the current year (March 21) some 1.5 billion cubic meters of water has been released to the lake, Daneshjoo added.

Water levels has also increased by 1.5 meters compared to the corresponding period last years, he said, adding that water is now covering some 3,200 square kilometers of the lakebed.

Shared between West Azarbaijan and East Azarbaijan provinces in northwestern Iran, Lake Urmia, was once the largest salt-water lake in the Middle East. It was a home to many migratory and indigenous animals including flamingos, pelicans, egrets and ducks and attracted hundreds of tourists every year who had bathed in the water to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the lake.

However, decades of long-standing drought spells and elevated hot summer temperatures that speed up evaporation as well as increased water demands in agriculture sector shrank the lake drastically. In 1999 the volume of water which was at 30 billion cubic meters drastically decreased to half a billion cubic meters in 2013. Moreover, the lake surface area of 5,000 square kilometers in 1997 shrunk to one tenth of that to 500 square kilometers in 2013.

The sharp rise in precipitations rates in the area has raised hopes for total restoration of the once glorious Lake Urmia.

MQ/MG

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