EghtesadOnline: In the framework of the Lake Urmia Restoration Project, water from Shahrchay and Boukan dams was discharged into the troubled lake on Sunday, managing director of West Azarbaijan Regional Water Company said.
“According to the program announced by the Iran Water Resources Management Company, 45 million cubic meters of water from Shahrchay Dam and 69 mcm from Bukan Dam will be released into the lake,” Kiumars Daneshjoo was quoted as saying by Energy Today website.
The restoration project calls for diverting water from dams in the province to the lake among other measures, to increase the water level.
Boukan is the largest clay-core dam in the province, located 35 km southeast of the city with the same name. The dam supplies over 100 million cubic meters of freshwater to Miandoab County and a big part of Tabriz in East Azarbaijan, as well as meets water demand of industries. An estimated 55,000 hectares of farmlands in Ajabshir and Azarshahr districts are fed by Boukan, according to Financial Tribune.
Built on the Shahrchay River, the namesake dam is located 12 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital Urmia City. It provides potable water for Urmia residents and when feasible to farms and industries.
Once the largest lake in the Middle East, the lake’s desiccation started in the late 1990s and by 2014 it was on the verge of drying up.
Many restorative measures have been taken during the past five years to restore the lake to its former glory, such as cutting use by farmers and diverting water from rivers.
Improving water management, capping 4,000 illegal wells and promoting sustainable farming over 6,000 hectares of farmland are among other measures taken to revive the lake whose condition has become a serious source of concern for the people, environmentalists, conservationists and economic experts.
Diverting treated wastewater to the lake without environmental cost is also underway to help increase the water level in the famous lake.
Despite the fact that average precipitation this year is up 15% compared to last year, the amount of rainwater in the catchment area of Lake Urmia is down by 5%, managing director of Iran Water Resources Management Company said Sunday.
“Last year rainfall in the catchment area was good compared to the long time average. This year it has dropped by 10 millimeters,” IRNA quoted Mohammadreza Haj Rasouliha as saying.
Despite lower rainfall, water level of the lake has increased by 71 centimeters compared to last year, thanks to the water released from dams in the region.
Currently, the lake holds 4.6 bcm of water, almost double last year’s volume of 2.5 bcm.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Lake Urmia is a closed water body fed through 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers.
With all the measures taken so far, the lake's water level has reached 1,272 meters, 1 meter higher compared to 2014.
Since last September, area of the inland body of water has risen by 1,364 sq km and is now 3,186 square km.