Reviving Lake Urmia hosting large flocks of flamingos

June 26, 2020 - 16:44

TEHRAN – Large flocks of flamingos are returning to Lake Urmia as the lake is being revived after years of dryness, ISNA reported on Thursday.

Accordingly, flamingos have migrated to their former habitat, Lake Urmia, for food. The number of them on the shores of the lake has been announced to be around 20,000. 

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

However, decades of long-standing drought spell excessive dam construction, 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 surface area of 5,000 square kilometers in 1997 shrunk to one-tenth of that to 500 square kilometers in 2013.

With the complete implementation of two water transfer projects, Lake Urmia will be completely restored by the Iranian calendar year 1406 (March 2027-March 2028), Issa Kalantari, Department of Environment (DOE) chief two weeks earlier announced.

Farhad Sarkhosh, head of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program’s office in West Azarbaijan province said that the lake’s level has reached 1,271.87 meters, which is 37 centimeters higher than the last year’s level.

The lake's water volume was estimated at more than 4.620 billion cubic meters, which indicates an increase of 1.010 billion cubic meters compared to the last year and 1.7 meters since 2014.

The above normal levels of rain came to help conservation measures to preserve the Lake Urmia, however, it still needs 9.5 billion cubic meters of water to reach its ecological level of 1274.10.

The lake was 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.

These days, life has returned to Lake Urmia. The lake now has so much water that tourists can swim in its shiny water and birds and aquatic species such as flamingos and Artemia have returned to it, but it still has a long way to completely survive.


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