Expert: Shoaling of Urmia lake to lead to sand and salt storms in Iran

Photo: Expert: Shoaling of Urmia lake to lead to sand and salt storms in Iran  / Society

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 19 /Trend T. Jafarov/

If the lake Urmia dries, sand and salt storms will be observed on a quarter of Iran's territory, president of the Iranian National Institute of Oceanography Vahid Chegini was quoted by İRNA agency as saying.

He said that environmental disaster will happen in the provinces of Mazandaran, Gilan, Zanjan, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardebil, Tehran, Qazvin and others after Lake Urmia drains.

Drought plays a major role in shoaling of Urmia lake, Chegini said.

"The operations are underway at the Iranian Ministry of Environment and Energy, the executive bodies of the surrounding provinces," he said. "We hope that the planned work will solve the problem with shoaling of Urmia lake."

According to the official statistics, 70 percent of the water surface of Lake Urmia has been dried up. At present, each liter of water contains 400 grams of salt.
The area of Lake Urmia is about 6000 square kilometers. The lake drying up has an impact on the flora and fauna of the region.

Illegal use of water flowing into the lake for watering by the rural population, construction of dams and illegal objects on its banks, is also among the problems of the lake.

Head of the Iranian West Azerbaijan Province's Environment Organization Hassan Abbasnejad said on Dec. 16 that Urmia Lake needs 3.1 billion cubic meters of water per year to survive.
Each liter of water in Lake Urmia contains 330 grams of salt. Previously, the figure stood at 160-170 grams per liter.

The Iranian government approved $900 million finance bill to save the lake from drought, but the process is being carried out slowly.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has allocated $135 million to Iran to resolve its environmental problems with shoaling at Lake Urmia. The Iranian government allocated $900 million for this purpose in September 2011.

A project to direct 600 million cubic meters of water from the River Araz into Lake Urmia was launched during a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and members of the government to Tabriz in 2010. Some $1.2 billion are planned to be allocated to implement this project.

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