People, Environment

Urmia Lake Gets Australian Support

In its prime, Urmia Lake was twice the size of Luxembourg.In its prime, Urmia Lake was twice the size of Luxembourg.

Iran’s Sharif University and the University of Melbourne in Australia have agreed to set up a center on water research in a bid to use Australia’s expertise in battling the water crisis to save Urmia Lake in northwestern Iran.

Iran has been working hard to revive the lake, which has lost more than 90% of its water due to climate change, excessive dam construction and wasteful farming practices.

The government of President Hassan Rouhani has made the restoration of the lake, which at its prime 20 years ago was twice the size of Luxembourg, a priority.

The Urmia Lake Restoration Program was established shortly after Rouhani was voted into office in 2013 and efforts to stop the water level from declining finally paid earlier this year, paving the way for the initiation of the second phase of the project, which is to replenish the lake.

According to Mehr News Agency, the two universities had discussed the possibility of setting up a joint center on water research for four months before finally reaching an agreement, which was made public on Wednesday.

Michael Stewardson, an associate professor in the Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne, told the news agency that “water problems are very complicated and cannot be solved swiftly.”

Stewardson, who arrived in Urmia, West Azarbaijan Province, earlier this week with his colleagues, said he was impressed with the lake’s progress and said the ULRP will “have extraordinary success in the near future.”

He said the key to the success of the restoration program is acculturation and the public’s participation.

“It is imperative to instill this belief in people that everyone has a part to play in the lake’s revival,” Stewardson said.