EghtesadOnline: Close to 60 million cubic meters of treated wastewater enters Urmia Lake every year, the managing director of West Azarbaijan Water and Wastewater Company said.
“Part of the water from treatment plants in Naqadeh, Urmia, Mahabad, Miandoab, Salmas and Boukan cities in the northwestern province is transferred to the lake,” IRNA reported Rasoul Akbari as saying.
Transferring treated wastewater to the lake as a practical solution without environmental cost is underway to increase the water level in the world famous lake that has been struggling with a huge water deficit for years and until recently was on the verge of drying up.
With the help of new wastewater treatment plants by the end of the current year, 105 mcm of processed water without harmful environmental impacts is planned to enter the lake annually, Financial Tribune reported.
With a total investment of $44.3 million, the company has plans to construct several treatment plants in cities located in the lake's catchment area with a total capacity of processing over 115,000 cubic meters of sewage per day and lay 1,100 kilometers of pipelines.
“So far, 300 km of pipelines have been laid and 6,400 cubic meters of treated wastewater is produced per day,” Akbari was quoted as saying by the news agency.
The move is in line with the guidelines of Urmia Lake Restoration Project that has tasked towns and cities in the vicinity of the lake’s basin to treat their wastewater and direct it toward the lake.
“Treated wastewater from Tabriz and Ajabshir in East Azarbaijan Province will be used to help restoration efforts underway at the Urmia Lake,” the managing director of East Azarbaijan Regional Water Company said.
Based on plans, the pipelines, slated to become operational within three years, will supply 135 mcm of treated urban wastewater from the two cities into the lake.
It is expected that in the coming years, 300 mcm of processed water from the two provinces will be directed to the lake.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake is a closed water body fed through 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers. Less than 20 years ago, the lake was Iran’s largest inland body of water.
However, it 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.
Many restorative measures have been taken so far to revive the lake, such as reducing agricultural water consumption and diverting water from rivers.
Improving water management, capping 4,000 plus illegal wells and promoting sustainable farming over 6,000 hectares of farmland are among efforts taken to revive the lake whose worsening conditions have become a serious source of concern for the people of the region, environmentalists, conservationists and economic experts.
An estimated 2.7 billion cubic meters of water has been released from dams in the province, into the lake since the beginning of the current water year (September).
Now Urmia Lake holds 5 billion cubic meters of water – up 100% compared to last year when it stored 2.5 billion cubic meters. The lake's water level has reached 1271.8 cm, up 1.5 cm compared to last year.
Since September the area of the inland body of water has risen by 870 sq km and now is 3,186 square km.