EghtesadOnline: Lake Urmia water level is on the rise following good rainfall that started last year and restoration programs carried out recently.
The programs include efficient management of surface and underground water in the lake’s vicinity, IRNA reported.
One of the main measures included in the Lake Urmia Restoration Program is to divert water from Kani Sib Dam in West Azarbaijan Province to the lake, which involves construction of a 35km tunnel, according to Financial Tribune.
Expected to be completed in spring, it will transfer 650 million cubic meters of water to the lake per annum.
Improving water management, sealing over 4,000 illegal wells in the region and promoting sustainable irrigation over 6,000 hectares of farmland are among efforts taken to revive the depleted lake, which has become a serious source of concern for the people of the region, environmentalists, conservationists and economic experts.
Diverting treated wastewater to the lake without environmental loss is also underway to help increase the water level in the famous lake.
The restoration project also calls for diverting water from dams nearby to the lake. So far, 69 mcm of water from Shahid Kazemi Dam has been released into the lake and transferring 45 mcm from Shahrchay Dam is underway.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake is a closed water body fed through 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers.
Once the second-largest saltwater lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia attracted birds and bathers to bask in its turquoise waters in northwest Iran. However, in the ear;y 1970s nearly three decades of drought shriveled the basin, shrinking it by a shocking 80%.
The drop in water level of the lake was also due to unrestrained damming and excessive water use, especially in the inefficient agriculture sector.
With restorative measures in the past five years, including sealing 4,000 illegal wells and promoting sustainable farming in 6,000 hectares of farmland, the lake's water level has reached 1,272 meters, about 1 meter higher compared to the start of the program in 2014.
Lake Urmia now covers a surface area of 2,840 square kilometers, up 40% compared to last year. At its best, it covered a surface of 5,000 square kilometers. It holds 3.5 billion cubic meters of water that is 1.7 bcm more than last year.
The lake supports unique biodiversity and its wetlands have been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.