Lake Urmia’s surface increased by over 1500 km²

April 11, 2021 - 16:58

TEHRAN – Lake Urmia’s surface area has reached up to 2,917 square kilometers, indicating 1,582 square kilometers increase in comparison to 2013 when the Lake Urmia Restoration Program began.

The level of Lake Urmia has reached 1,271 meters, which indicates an increase of over 1.39 meters compared to the lowest volume recorded, Farhad Sarkhosh, head of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program’s office in West Azarbaijan province said.

The volume of water also raised by 3.81 billion cubic meters, which has increased more than 5 times compared to the Iranian calendar year 1394 (March 2015-March 2016) and before the Lake Urmia Restoration Program started, he highlighted.

The water transfer projects will cause Lake Urmia to reach its ecological level over the next seven years, which is 1274.1 meters with 15 billion cubic meters of water through increasing the lake’s level by one meter each year, he explained, IRNA reported on Sunday.

With the transfer of water from Zab River, about 623 million cubic meters of water will enter the lake permanently annually.

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.

At the beginning of the 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 in comparison to the current water level.

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 Lake Urmia, however, it still needs 9.5 billion cubic meters of water to reach its ecological level.

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