TEHRAN – Some 108 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working in three fields of environment, sustainable livelihood development, and surface water control with the aim of revitalizing Lake Urmia.
Some 32 other non-governmental organizations are about to be established in this regard, Farhad Sarkhosh, head of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program’s office in West Azarbaijan province said.
Lake Urmia, located in the northwest of Iran, was once the most extensive permanent hypersaline lake in the world. Unsustainable water management in response to increasing demand together with climatic extremes has given rise to the lake’s depletion during the last two decades. The lake’s restoration program was established in 2013 and aims to restore the lake within a 10-year program.
In August, Sarkhosh stated that a new budget amounting to 6.4 trillion rials (nearly $152 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials) will be allocated for the Lake Urmia revival, which will be spent on completing semi-finished projects.
He pointed out that the water volume of Lake Urmia has reached 3.6 billion cubic meters, adding that the level of the Lake has increased to 1271.36 meters.
At the beginning of the Lake Urmia Restoration Program in 2013, the Lake’s level was about 1270.32 meters, 1783 square kilometers in surface area, and 1.14 billion cubic meters in volume, which indicates a 50 percent increase in the lake’s surface area in comparison to the current water level.
Achieving sustainable rehabilitation requires countless efforts, such as preventing the lake’s water flow from entering the agricultural land. Lake Urmia’s condition stabilized with a positive trend due to heavy rainfall, but there is a fear that this trend will be reversed by drought in the coming years.
The above normal levels of rain came to help conservation measures to preserve the Lake Urmia, however, it still needs 9.5 billion cubic meters of water to reach its ecological level of 1274.10 meters.