ULRP Dismisses Urmia Lake Sedimentation Claims

ULRP Dismisses Urmia Lake Sedimentation ClaimsULRP Dismisses Urmia Lake Sedimentation Claims

An official at the Urmia Lake Restoration Program has dismissed claims that sedimentation on the lakebed has thickened by a meter, saying it is “almost impossible.”

Speaking to ISNA, Masoud Tajrishi, head of planning at ULRP, said it is highly unlikely that the sedimentation on the lakebed has increased by a meter since 2013, when the ULRP was established.

“Among the first things we did [when the ULRP was formed] was to measure the depth of the lake, which included measuring sedimentation,” he said.

Tajrishi noted that the rate of sedimentation in the Dead Sea—a hypersaline, mineral rich salt lake bordering the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jordan—is about two-and-a-half to five centimeters per year.

“The rate of sedimentation is similar in Urmia Lake, so it is almost impossible for the lakebed’s sedimentation to have thickened by a meter in three years,” he argued.

The official said the next measurement of the lake’s depth and sedimentation will be taken in the calendar year that begins in March 2017.

Urmia Lake has depleted 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 as well as the construction of several dams that have choked off water supply from the surrounding mountains.

Rumors about the thickening of the lake’s sedimentation have been circulating online for some time. In January, Marzieh Lak of the Research Institute for Earth Sciences said that the accumulation of salt on the lakebed means “the lake will never again restore its ecological balance.”

In August, Isa Kalantari, the head of ULRP, said measures to stabilize the lake’s water level have been successful, which means “we can begin the restoration phase” later this year to return its water level to what it was more than a decade ago.

Last month, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Iran, Japan and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to help revive the imperiled lake in northwestern Iran, with Tokyo pledging to fund restoration efforts by providing $3.8 million in the next four years.

Officials have been quoted as saying that Urmia Lake will be restored by 2023.

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