EghtesadOnline: Close to 1.6 billion cubic meters of water evaporated from Urmia Lake in the last 90 days, head of the Base Studies Department of East Azarbaijan Water Company said.
“Due to evaporation, the lake's water level has fallen by 50 centimeters compared to May when it reached a record high at 1,272 cm during the last ten years,” Aqil Aqdasi was quoted by IRNA as saying.
Putting daily evaporation at about 18 million cubic meters, he said the evaporation notwithstanding, the lake now holds 3.8 bcm of water or about 1.5 times more than last year’s 2.5 bcm.
Once the largest lake in the Middle East, the volume of water in Urmia Lake was close to 1,278 bcm between 1695 and 1993, according to Financial Tribune.
Since the late 1990s the lake’s uninterrupted desiccation started declining 40 centimeters per year and by 2014 its level plummeted by eight meters, the senior water official was quoted as saying.
Evaporation which is the most important water output from lakes plays a significant role in the lakes water balance. It can also vary chemical compositions of lakes.
Around 2.46 bcm of water was released from dams in West Azarbaijan Province into Lake Urmia since the beginning of the current water year (last September), Kioumars Daneshjou, managing director of West Azarbaijan Water Company said.
"Of the total, 1.86 bcm was released in the past six months following good rainfall in the province."
The amount of rainwater in the catchment area of the lake has increased by 26% compared to last year and risen over 47% compared to the long-term average.
Daneshjou said that since last September area of the inland body of water has risen by 1,364 square km to 3,087 sq km now.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Lake Urmia 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 depleted significantly and the decline is generally blamed on a combination of drought, increased water diversion for irrigated agriculture within the lake's watershed and land use mismanagement.
The lake supports invaluable and unique biodiversity and its wetlands have been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve–‘Science for Sustainability support sites’– special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understand and manage changes and interaction between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.