EghtesadOnline: To help restore Lake Urmia, close to 270 million cubic meters of water will be gradually discharged into the troubled lake from four dams in West Azarbaijan Province over the next two months, head of Urmia Lake Restoration Project said.
“Average rate of water flow into the lake is 61 cubic meters per second or five million cubic meters a day,” Farhad Sarkhosh was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Of the total volume (270 mcm) which will be released into the lake in 54 days, 194 mcm, 30 mcm, 40 mcm and 6 mcm will be transferred from Boukan, Shahrchay, Mahabad and Salmas dams respectively, Financial Tribune reported.
The lake holds 3.7 billion cubic meters of water that is 2 bcm more than in 2018. The lake's water level has reached 1,272 meters, which is one meter higher compared to 2014.
An estimated $280 million has been spent to restore the lake over the past decade.
Measures taken to revive Lake Urmia in recent years (stopping dam construction, improving farming methods and management of existing reservoirs) helped the flow of 4.6 billion cubic meters of water into the drying lake.
Three provinces that share Lake Urmia basin - East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Kurdestan - and the government have mobilized to devise meaningful restoration plans.
Lake Urmia now covers 2,883 square kilometers, up 23% compared to last year when it was 2,345 square kilometers. At its best, it covered 5,000 square kilometers.
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. Then beginning in the 1970s, nearly three decades of drought and high water demand shriveled the basin, shrinking it by a shocking 80%.
Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, the lake is a closed water body fed through 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers.
It depleted significantly due to a variety of factors, namely construction of a 15 km causeway to shorten travel time between Urmia and Tabriz plus construction of several dams that have choked off water supply from the mountains on either side of the lake.