Lake Urmia level rises by half a meter year on year

April 4, 2020 - 18:26

TEHRAN – Lake Urmia water level has increased by 50 centimeters compared to the same time last year, Farhad Sarkhosh, head of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program’s office in West Azarbaijan province, has announced.

According to the latest monitoring, the lake’s level has reached 1,271 meters and 64 centimeters, which is 50 centimeters higher than the last year’s level, he stated, IRNA reported on Saturday.

The lake's water volume was estimated at more than 4.440 billion cubic meters, which indicates an increase of 1.450 billion cubic meters compared to the last year, he highlighted.

He went on to say that Lake Urmia’s surface area has now reached more than 3,055 square kilometers, adding that the figure has increased by 358 square kilometers.

The lake’s level will increase by nearly one meter annually if conservation projects are exploited, he noted.

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.

The lake is expected to reach its ecological level within 10 years by completing the restoration plans which started four years ago.

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.

This is a while, deputy environment chief Masoud Tajrishi said in July 2019 that rainfall is not the only the reason behind Lake Urmia 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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