Lake Urmia water level rises by 1 meter

November 2, 2019

TEHRAN – The level of water at Lake Urmia has increased by 1 meter in the current water year (began on September 23) compared to the same period last year.

Shared between West Azarbaijan and East Azarbaijan provinces in northwestern Iran, Lake Urmia, was once the largest salt-water lake in the Middle East. 

However, decades of long-standing drought spells and elevated hot summer temperatures that speed up evaporation as well as increased water demands in the 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’s surface area of 5,000 square kilometers in 1997 shrunk to one-tenth of that to 500 square kilometers in 2013.

In order to maintain the Lake Urmia ecological balance of 14 billion cubic meters over the next 10 years, an annual amount of 3.3 billion cubic meters of water is required.
With declining temperature and increasing autumnal rainfall, as well as evaporation reduction, Lake Urmia’s water level has reached 1271.23 meters, Mehr quoted Hojjat Jabbari, deputy director of West Azarbaijan province’s department of environment, as saying on Saturday.

He went on to say that the lake’s water level has increased by 1.01 meters compared to the corresponding period last year.

The volume of water is estimated at 3.24 billion cubic meters, and also water is now covering some 2,780 square kilometers of the lakebed, he noted.

During the last water year, the lake’s water level raised by 174 centimeters which means 1271.96 meters above the sea level, however, it decreased by 73 centimeters during the summer due to evaporation and lack of water in the rivers, he explained.

Referring to West Azarbaijan province as one of the most important provinces of the country due to having over 60 wetlands, Jabbari concluded that this year, none of the wetlands faced a serious problem and the onset of autumn rains has improved the wetlands’ condition.

Alireza Shari’at, head of monitoring and supervision department of the Lake Urmia restoration program said in September 2018, that in order to maintain the Lake Urmia ecological balance of 14 billion cubic meters over the next 10 years, an annual amount of 3.3 billion cubic meters of water is required.

The sharp rise in precipitations rates over the past crop year since now has raised hopes for total restoration of the once glorious Lake Urmia.

Based on the latest data published by the National Drought Warning and Monitoring Center, since the current crop year, province of West Azarbaijan received 14.4 millimeters of rain which demonstrates a 56.2 percent rise compared to that of last year, while facing a slight shortage of 0.4 millimeters in comparison to the long term means.

This is a while, deputy environment chief Masoud Tajrishi told Khabaronline in July that rainfall is not the only reason behind Urmia Lake coming back to life, thus restoration measures turned out to be effective, unlike the previous years of high rainfall poured over the lake but did not raise the lake level.

The effort put into properly dredging and clearing of weed and vegetation in river beds as a way came efficient in the lake conservation, he added.

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