People, Environment

Dyke to Be Brought Down to Help Save Hamouns

Dyke to Be Brought Down to Help Save HamounsDyke to Be Brought Down to Help Save Hamouns

The central levee on the Hamoun Wetlands is set to be brought down to allow water to flow more freely into the desiccating wetlands.

Director of the Department of Environment office in Sistan-Baluchestan Province made the statement on Thursday in a meeting attended by the deputy interior minister for security and law enforcement, secretary of the special workgroup of the National Security Council and the deputy for natural environment affairs at the DOE.

“It is clear that environmental issues, particularly the current state of the Hamouns, are of serious concern to the government, especially the Interior Ministry,” Saeed Mahmoudi was quoted as saying by ILNA.

The levee, or dyke, is located on the Iran-Afghanistan border. The plan is to bring down the levee in 50 places with 25 kilometers in-between every point.

Removal of the levee is a part of a comprehensive scheme drawn up by the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project to help revive the imperiled wetlands.

The Hamouns are transboundary wetlands on the Iran-Afghanistan border and comprise three lakes: Hamoun-e Helmand, which is entirely in Iran; Hamoun-e Sabari on the border; and Hamoun-e Puzak, which is almost entirely inside Afghanistan. The three lakes are linked and fed by water from Afghanistan’s Helmand River.

Construction of dams and canals in Afghanistan have led to water being drawn for agriculture in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Nimrooz, causing water levels in the lakes to plummet. To make matters worse, four reservoirs were built within Iran, diverting more water and speeding up the desiccation of the wetlands.

Twenty years ago, most of the area was green and flora and fauna abundant. The lake teemed with fish and the total annual catch used to exceed 12,000 tons. The wetlands also supported agriculture and water buffalo herds, providing a livelihood for thousands of households.

With an area of about 50,700 square kilometers, Hamoun is (was) the largest freshwater lake across the Iranian Plateau.  

Once a thriving lagoon and a major source of income for the locals, the Hamouns are now almost completely dry, becoming the biggest source of dust storms in the province and one of the largest in eastern Iran.