Non-revival of Lake Urmia could cause $1,000 billion loss

August 1, 2020 - 18:35

TEHRAN – Although Lake Urmia’s revival will cost around $1.5 billion, not implementing the revival plan would inflict a loss of $1,000 billion to the country, Issa Kalantari, chief of the Department of Environment, has said.

In response to the opinion of some experts about the impossibility of reviving Lake Urmia, he said: “This was the first revitalization project in the world that was successful.”

Referring to the human consequences of not reviving Lake Urmia, he said that if the lake was not conserved, the area would have to be evacuated leading to the displacement of over two million people, in addition to affecting 10 million people.

Lake Urmia, located in the northwest of Iran, was once the most extensive permanent hypersaline lake in the world. Unsustainable water management in response to increasing demand together with climatic extremes has given rise to the lake's depletion during the last two decades. The lake’s restoration program was established in 2013 and aims to restore the lake within a 10-year program.

The level of Lake Urmia reached about 1271.56 meters on July 21, equivalent to 3,004 square kilometers surface area and 4.19 billion cubic meters in volume, while at the beginning of Lake Urmia Restoration Program in 2013, the Lake’s level was about 1270.32 meters, 1783 square kilometers in surface area and 1.14 billion cubic meters in volume, which indicates a 50 percent increase in the lake’s surface area.

Achieving sustainable rehabilitation requires countless efforts, such as preventing the lake's water flow from entering the agricultural land. Lake Urmia’s condition stabilized with a positive trend due to heavy rainfall, but there is a fear that this trend will be reversed by drought in the coming years.

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 meters.

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