‘Water level at Lake Urmia unprecedented for the past decade’

May 31, 2019

TEHRAN — The level of water at Lake Urmia, a body of water located in northwestern Iran, is unprecedented for the past 10 years, an official with West Azarbaijan province’s department of environment has said.

Regarding recent torrential rainfalls and plans carried out by Lake Urmia Restoration Program level of water rose to almost 1,272 meters, IRNA news agency quoted Omid Bonabi as saying on Thursday.

Other wetlands surrounding Lake Urmia are also in a good condition, the provincial officials highlighted.

Releasing water to the lake consistently and practicing modern irrigation methods played a significant role in reviving the lake, he added.

This year the water level rose by 1.6 meters at the lake compared to the same period last year and if one meters of water evaporates due to temperature rise in the coming months still 60 centimeters will be left and the lake won’t face any crisis, Bonabi explained.

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.

Kiumars Daneshjoo, CEO of West Azarbaijan regional water company said in mid-May that 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 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. Additionally water is now covering some 3,200 square kilometers of the lakebed, he added.

MQ/MG

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