ULRP director says which measures needed to save Lake Urmia

ULRP director says which measures needed to save Lake Urmia

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 21

By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:

Drying of Lake Urmia would caus many consequences such as social, economic, cultural problems for Iran, Hossein Shahbaz, Director of International Cooperation at Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP) told Trend.

"To name a few, we can point out the dust sources problem which seems to be one of the important ones. Experiences of other similar drying lakes in the world reveal the upcoming threats and risks of drying of Urmia Lake," he said.

Undoubtedly, drying up 5,000 square kilometer land is not pleasant for local dwellers, according to Shahbaz.

The major threats of drying and turning Urmia Lake into salty lands based on experiences and evidences are mentioned as follows:

Formation of dust sources

Desertification and its development to the agricultural and residential areas

Spreading incurable diseases out ULB (ocular diseases, skin diseases, cancer, abortion, etc.)

Destroying the agricultural land, orchards, pastures and forest

Negative impact on the local livestock and husbandry

Increasing unemployment rate andlocal emigration especially from lake adjacent areas

Intensification of regional climate changes (temperature increase, precipitation reduction and evaporation rise)

Negative impacts on tourism industry

Migration of wildlife to the outside of the lake

Probable diseases due to the maintaining of the status quo are asthma and Bronchitis, acute Respiratory Infections, upper Respiratory Infections, occlusive disease of the respiratory, various types of incurable diseases, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Taking about the current situation in Lake Urmia, Shahbaz pointed out that before the formation of ULRP, in 1995, after recording the highest level of the lake (1278.48), water level has annually decreased in average 40 cm within last two decades to the extent that it reached to the lowest level in September 2015 and the southern part of the lake was totally dried. Climate changes and other factors have resulted in a drop in runoff and surface water inflow throughout the basin.

However, the dramatic descending trend has decreased by some measures done by ULRP.




Volume (BCM)

7 Jul. 2018




7 Jul. 2017




7 Jul. 2016




7 Jul. 2015




7 Jul. 2014




7 Jul. 2013




Ecological Level




He noted that in Sep. 2017 and Mar. 2018, ground data were collected from Urmia Lake bed by ULRP. The data were collected along the parallel paths to Shahid Kalantari Bridge (500 meters from each other and about 15 kilometers long as shown in the figure).

Regarding the recommendations for saving Lake Urmia, Shahbaz said ULRP considers 6 main objectives:

Protection and risk management

Water supply from new resources

Facilitating water supply to the lake by new

40 percent reduction of water use in agriculture sector

Monitoring and control of surface and ground water withdrawal

Soft activities: policy, research, knowledge generation, public awareness

Lake Urmia is an endorheic salt lake in Iran. The lake is between the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan in Iran, and west of the southern portion of the Caspian Sea. The lake has shrunk to 10 percent of its former size due to damming of the rivers that flow into it, and the pumping of groundwater from the surrounding area.

Lake Urmia, along with its once approximately 102 islands, is protected as a national park by the Iranian Department of Environment.


Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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