People, Environment

Lake Urmia Desiccation Slows

Lake Urmia Desiccation SlowsLake Urmia Desiccation Slows

The recent increase in Lake Urmia’s water level has had many claiming that the imperiled lake is restored, but an official warns that some people are sort of getting ahead of themselves.

“Lake Urmia is not yet restored, but thanks to high rainfall recently it now holds more water” Mohsen Soleimani, director of Iranian Wetlands Conservation Project, told ISNA. “It’s only natural for the lake’s water level to rise in rainy months.”

Nevertheless, “the lake’s desiccation has slowed down,” as measurements suggest that Lake Urmia consistently has more water at various times of a year compared to corresponding periods in previous years.

With the onset of the hot summer season, the lake will begin to lose water and the challenge is to ensure minimal water evaporation.

The Urmia Lake Restoration Program, which was established by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration in 2013, has plans to ensure minimal water loss during the warmer months.

The government approved a project last November to transfer water from Zab River to Lake Urmia, which is meant to help counteract its evaporation in summer.

The plan to transfer water from Zab, in Kurdestan Province, is scheduled for completion in 2019. Once complete, the river will feed around 600 million cubic meters of water annually to Lake Urmia.

Meteorologists have predicted that this summer will be about 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than normal, which officials say will dry the northern section of the lake, leaving only small patches of water.

The lake has dried up drastically in the past 20 years due to a variety of factors, including the construction of a 15-kilometer causeway to shorten the travel time between Urmia and Tabriz cities as well as construction of several dams that have choked off water supply from the mountains towering either side of the lake.

Officials have said the lake will be restored by 2023.