Maharlou Lake Disappears

Maharlou Lake Disappears
Maharlou Lake Disappears

Maharlou Lake in Fars Province has joined Iran’s growing list of vanishing water bodies, highlighting the extent of damage caused by years of mismanagement and perpetual drought.

The lake was the last remaining water body in the province, since it was the final destination of provincial capital Shiraz’s wastewater, Mehr News Agency reported.

The disconcerting news comes only five months after IRIB reported that the lake was 70% full and drawing tourists in droves.

Extending over nearly 600 square kilometers, Maharlou Lake has become a vast barren plain with patches of swamp and salt sediments.

Located 27 kilometers southeast of Shiraz, the lake was responsible for the city’s humidity. In fact, Maharlou Lake was a prime location for city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis for a few hours.

  Dire Situation

The lake’s desiccation has raised concern among experts, as it poses grave health risks to the general populace.

“Unless swift action is taken to revive the lake, people of Shiraz could be in danger,” said Alamdar Alamdari, an environmental expert.

Dried lake bed, called playa, is lighter and flies farther than ordinary soil. Choking clouds of particulate matter driven by powerful desert winds could worsen the health problems of people living in the vicinity of the lake.

Ezzatollah Raeisi, a faculty member at Shiraz University, said, “Five years ago, following reports suggesting the lake was polluted, a team began studying Maharlou Lake.”

Raeisi said organic matter flowing into the lake via Kenar Rahdar Lake was found to be polluted, but within acceptable levels.

“However, due to the lake’s high evaporation rate and the buildup of organic matter, pollution levels in Maharlou exceeded acceptable levels,” he said.

What this means is that the playa is polluted and the slightest wind could blow polluted matter toward Shiraz and farmlands surrounding the lake.

“When the salt is blown over farmlands, it will have adverse effects on soil fertility,” Raeisi warned.

Raeisi said the lake’s desiccation will lead to a sudden drop in air moisture, which will take a toll on the surrounding vegetation.

“The four primary tributaries of the lake have all gone dry, mainly because of drawing excess water from illegal wells dug around the lake,” Raeisi said, adding that over 500 million cubic meters of water have been siphoned away.

Raeisi said cars will begin driving through the lake bed, which will only hamper restoration efforts, calling on officials to “put up soil mounds around the lake to prevent cars from entering.”

In its prime, Maharlou Lake had a thriving ecosystem and was home to migratory birds such as flamingo and the common redshank.

The occasional pink hue was a distinctive feature of the lake, which will remain preserved in the photographic memory of visitors for the foreseeable future.