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11 May 2019 - 16:18
Imperilled Lake Urmia totally revived: Official

The water level of Lake Urmia in the East Azarbaijan province of Iran has increased to 5 billion cubic meters', said the head of the provincial committee for the restoration of the unique salty water spot.

'Following the revival plans, we are witnessing revival to the lake', said Khalil Saei talking to journalists in Urmia.

He added: 'Due to recent rainfalls and the measures taken by the Revival Committee, the water balance in Lake Urmia on May 11 reached over 1,271 meters, which shows an increase of 1.05 centimeter compared to last year'.

'The rising water level and the volume of water have very significant positive impact on the community and have increased the activities of people living around it, added the provincial official. In recent days, we have seen growing presence of local people along the lake and the increasing lively activities there by the local communities, he added.

Lake Urmia, a salt lake, which once had a surface area of 5,000 square kilometers (almost 2,000sq miles) shrank to just 700sq km in 2013. The reasons were both mismanagement by local and central governments and also a prolonged drought.

Situated in the mountains of northwest Iran, Lake Urmia is fed by 13 rivers and designated as a site of international importance under the UN Convention on Wetlands that was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.

The volume of water at the lake in 1997 measured at 30 billion cubic meters which dramatically decreased to 2.5 billion cubic meters in 2017.

The Iranian government put Lake Urmia on its agenda in 2013 and with the help of the UN and Japan efforts began to revive the lake.

As Urmia came back from 700 to 2,000sq km, the rains increased in the fall of 2018 and then intensified in March. Now Urmia’s surface is close to 3,000sq km and water level has increased by 59 centimeters or two feet compared with 2013, according to the governor.

It is one of the worst ecological disasters of recent decades, but the shrinking of Iran's great Lake Urmia finally appears to be stabilising and officials see the start of a revival.

News Code 190293

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