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EghtesadOnline: Construction work to channel water from Zab River along the western borders to the troubled Lake Urmia in the northwest has registered 90% progress and is expected to come on stream in February 2022, director of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa) said.

“The scheme is part of measures to help restore the once largest saltwater lake in the Middle East,” Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

The plan entails a dam (Kani Sib in Piranshahr, West Azarbaijan Province), a 36-km tunnel and a 17-km canal.

“Abfa started work on the project in 2015. So far, it has spent $225 million borrowed from the National Development Fund of Iran, the country's sovereign wealth fund,” Khamesi added.

According to the official, 600 million cubic meters of water will be pumped annually from the river to the dam and then transferred to the lake through the tunnel and canal.

Referring to international water rights, he said 50% of Zab River waters belong to Iran and "we can use it as we want.”

The Tigris River Basin has several sub-basins shared by Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The main shared tributaries are the Great Zab, an approximately 400-kilometer-long river flowing through Turkey and Iraq, and the Little Zab that originates in Iran and joins the Tigris in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.



Similar Plans

Referring to similar plans, Khamesi said the completion of the second phase of a wastewater treatment facility in Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province, will supply 4 cubic meters of water per second to Lake Urmia or 125 million cubic meters a year.

“The construction of the plant is 80% complete and will be used by one million people,” he added. 

An undertaking of Abfa launched in 2016, the plant’s construction cost 2,000 billion rials ($100 million), which was also borrowed from NDF.

The second phase will increase current capacity (130,000 cubic meters per day) to 207,000 cm per day. 

Instead of the conventional activated sludge process, the plant is equipped with step-feed aeration system in which primary effluent enters the aeration tank at several points along the length of the tank, rather than at the beginning or head of the tank.

Khamesi said currently, seven wastewater processing units are in varying stages of construction in the province and after completion will significantly raise processing capacity.

With the completion of programs to revive Urmia Lake`, over 6 billion cubic meters of water from dams in West Azarbaijan Province, namely Silveh, Zola, Boukan, Aqchai, Shahre-Chai, Mahabad, Aras and Karamabad, have flowed into the world-famous lake since 2015.

Located between the provinces of East and West Azarbaijan, Urmia Lake is a closed water body fed by 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers. 

It started to desiccate 10 years ago due to a variety of factors, including the construction of a 15-km causeway to shorten travel time between Urmia and Tabriz cities and the construction of several dams that have choked off water supply from the mountains on both sides of the lake.


Lake Urmia construction