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EghtesadOnline: With programs to revive Urmia Lake moving ahead, seven billion cubic meters of water from dams flowed into the world famous lake in the past decade and is increasing, head of Urmia Lake Restoration Project said.

“Close to 300 million cubic meters of water will be gradually discharged into the lake from five dams in West Azarbaijan Province within two months,” Farhad Sarkhosh was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Average water flow into the lake is 61 cubic meters per second or five million cubic meters a day, Sarkhosh added.

Total volume (300 mcm) of water to be released into the lake in 60 days, 194 mcm, 30 mcm, 40 mcm, 30 mcm and 6 mcm will be transferred from Boukan, Shahrchay, Mahabad, Sarouq and Salmas dams, respectively, he added.

The lake now holds 4.7 bcm of water -- 2 bcm more than in 2018 and its water level has reached 1,271 meters, which is one meter higher compared to 2014.

“An estimated $1 billion has been spent to restore the lake over the past decade,” the ULRP officials said.

Rainfall in Urmia Lake basin in the northwest reached 129 mm since the beginning of the current water year in Sept. 2020 --  up 37% compared to a year ago.

Measures taken to revive the huge but long troubled water body in recent years (banning dam construction, improving farming methods and efficient management of existing reservoirs) has helped the flow of seven billion cubic meters of water into the lake.

Three provinces that share Lake Urmia basin -- East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, and Kurdestan -- and the government in Tehran have mobilized efforts to restore the lake to its rightful position.

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, it 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.

 

Lake Urmia Water