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Less than 20 years ago, Urmia Lake was Iran’s largest inland body of water.
Less than 20 years ago, Urmia Lake was Iran’s largest inland body of water.

Treated Water to Feed Urmia Lake

A substantial drop in rainfall, leading to the disappearance of surface water streams, has compelled the authorities to count on treated wastewater as the only dependable source of water for feeding the embattled Urmia Lake
Tabriz is a populated city and produces a huge amount of wastewater that is a good resource to feed the lake

Treated Water to Feed Urmia Lake

Treated wastewater from the surrounding cities is currently the only dependable source of water for feeding the embattled Urmia Lake, as lack of precipitation continues to hamper restoration efforts, a senior official at the Department of Environment said.
Masoud Tajrishi, DOE's deputy for human environment, added that UN reports confirm that the substantial drop in rainfall has led to the disappearance of surface water streams, rendering efforts to direct water toward the lake ineffective.
"Precipitation has reached its minimum over the past three years and weather forecasts have not predicted much rain until mid-January," he said, implying that surface waters cannot be relied on to help replenish Urmia, Zist Online reported.
According to the official, 27 strategies have been proposed for Urmia's revival, the most significant of which is the establishment of 13 treatment plants in the lake's catchment area financed by Urmia Lake Restoration Program.
The treatment plant in Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province, is among the 13 projects whose first phase is currently producing 1.5 cubic meters of treated water per second.
Speaking during a visit to the second phase of the plant, Tajrishi said, "Tabriz is a populated city and produces a huge amount of wastewater that is a good resource to feed the lake, notwithstanding its considerable distance from the lake.”
Reportedly, 70% of Tabriz's urban areas are connected to the wastewater system.
Alireza Imanlou, director of East Azarbaijan's Water and Wastewater Company, said the second phase of the plant has been designed to cover a population of 900,000 people with a budget of 4.2 trillion rials ($98 million).
"So far, only 950 billion rials ($22 million) have been allocated and used to complete the infrastructure," he said.
"Once complete, the plant will be able to supply 4 cubic meters of water per second to the lake, which equals 125 million cubic meters per year."
The move is in line with the guidelines of Urmia Lake Restoration Project that has tasked the towns and cities in the vicinity of Lake Urmia’s catchment area to treat their wastewater and direct it toward the lake via pipelines.

   The Shrinking Lake
Less than 20 years ago, Urmia Lake, located in West Azarbaijan Province, was Iran’s largest inland body of water.
Today, the lake contains only 5% of the amount of water it did then. 
Many restorative measures have been taken so far to revive the depleting lake, such as reducing agricultural water consumption and diverting water from rivers to the lake, some of which have produced favorable results, but it still has a long way to go before it can be restored to an ideal level.
One of the most prominent measures taken by ULRP was the merger of Zarrinehroud and Siminehroud rivers, whose flow was then directed toward the lake. Shortly afterwards, the reservoir of Boukan Dam was opened, feeding the lake with about 70 cubic meters of water per second.
But experts are of the opinion that other measures, such as overhauling farming practices, using modern irrigation systems, practicing judicious water consumption and upholding the lake’s water rights are necessary to ensure that restoration efforts will have a lasting impact.
Urmia Lake currently covers 3,000 kilometers, holding 3 billion cubic meters of water. To return to an ideal state, the lake needs to be fed 13 billion cubic meters of water, which is a rather difficult and time-consuming task requiring large funds.
The lake has dried up drastically due to a variety of factors, including the construction of a 15-km causeway to shorten the travel time between Urmia and Tabriz cities and the construction of several dams that have choked off water supply from the mountains on either side of the lake.

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