Govt. to complete Lake Urmia restoration plans

October 11, 2022 - 17:52

TEHRAN – The government's policy is to finalize and complete the previous plans for the restoration of Lake Urmia, the deputy head of the Department of Environment for marine environment and wetlands, has said.

The water transfer plans, costing 60 trillion rials (nearly $187 million), are to be completed and put into operation over the next six months, IRIB quoted Mojtaba Zoljudi as saying on Tuesday.

Eliciting people’s participation, managing water resources, increasing agricultural productivity, and examining and diagnosing the previous government's projects are other plans of the government to revive this lake, he explained.

This is while, Hessam Ahmadi Birgani, an environmental professor at Urmia University said that the restoration of Lake Urmia is unlikely in the current conditions.

When water is lost, sand and salt flats increase, and at the same time, many organisms living in the lake are lost, and migratory birds no longer come to this area, so the marine ecosystem is destroyed, he lamented.

7 years of conservation

Lake Urmia started to dry up in the 2000s, and although it revived at some point over the past few years, it is in serious danger these days.

Lake Urmia, located in northwest Iran, is the largest lake in West Asia and the sixth-largest Salt Lake in the world with a water surface area of 5,000 to 6,000 km2. The lake is designated for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, Ramsar Site, as well as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which is a protected area with the aim of conserving nature and culture in the region and community development.

The water transfer plans, costing 60 trillion rials ($187 million), are to be completed over the next six months.However, the water in the lake has been decreasing during the past years. The water surface area shrank by approximately 80 percent of its (once-large) original size at the end of the dry season in 2013 and by approximately 70 percent at the end of the rainy season of the same year.

Restoration measures caused the level of Lake Urmia to reach 1278 meters in 1995 and 1274 meters in 2005 and finally, it stood at 1270 meters in 2015.

After 7 years and spending about $4 billion, the condition of Lake Urmia was returned to its first point, Somayeh Rafiei, a member of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) said.

Based on the studies and according to the statement of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program, 18 percent of the drying was due to climate change and 82 percent was due to the mismanagement of water resources in the catchment area, she lamented.

The water level of Lake Urmia was supposed to reach 1274.1 by 2028. Currently, the last level of the Lake on July 10th was estimated at 1270.57, which means that it is only 53 cm higher than the minimum level of November 2015, she explained.

According to experts' forecasts, evaporation will continue in Lake Urmia until the end of September, and the water level will reach the level of the first day of the Lake Urmia restoration project, and the south of the lake will be completely dry, she lamented.


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