Lake Urmia shrinks by over 1,500 km2

September 21, 2021 - 18:24

TEHRAN – Lake Urmia’s surface area has decreased by 1,546 square kilometers compared to the same date last year, Yaser Rahbardin, CEO of West Azarbaijan Province’s Regional Water Company, has stated.

The Lake’s surface was 3,538 square kilometers this time last year, he further said.

The level of Lake Urmia is 1270.66 meters, showing a decrease of 62 cm year on year. The current level of Lake Urmia is 1270.66 meters, which shows a decrease of 62 cm year on year, he added, ISNA reported on Tuesday.

Pointing out that 2.760 billion cubic meters of water are currently in the Lake, Rahbardin noted that statistics show that the volume of water compared to the same period last year shows a decrease of 2.2 billion cubic meters.

Lake Urmia condition

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

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 surface area of 5,000 square kilometers in 1997 shrunk to one-tenth of that to 500 square kilometers in 2013.

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

The above normal levels of rain came to help conservation measures to preserve Lake Urmia, but, this year, the drought and low rainfall are threatening the lake again.

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