Iran’s official says water transfer to Lake Urmia unprofessional

8 October 2013 16:02 (UTC+04:00)

By Sara Rajabova

The Iranian government continues efforts on the prevention of Lake Urmia shoaling, which now is in the critic situation.

The head of Iran's Environmental Protection Organization, Masoumeh Ebtekar said recently that the plans for reviving the Lake Urmia are almost specified, Iranian IRINN state TV reported.

Lake Urmia in northwest Iran is experiencing its worst drought condition for many years, where over 70 percent of its water has dried up. The level of the water has been declining since 1995.

Ebtekar said that the Organization does not agree with plans of transferring water from Caspian Sea or Aras River to Lake Urmia, saying these plans are unprofessional due to economic and environmental factors.

She also added that Iran's Environmental Protection Organization is interested in strategy that is compatible with region's ecology.

Ebtekar also said that revising the water consumption patterns in the region's agriculture sector is necessary to save the lake.

The situation over the Lake Urmia has recently widely debated by the Iranian officials and experts.

The head of the West Azerbaijan province, Vahid Jalalzade said recently that for 30 years, Lake Urmia has been deprived of attention and as a result of construction of dams and climate change, some 70 percent of the lake has dried up and all forces should be mobilized to rescue the lake.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has established a working group to tackle the issue of saving Lake Urmia. The task group will use the background of the already conducted studies and technical research works in the field and present its proposals for saving Lake Urmia to the government within a two-month period.

Rohani also signed special instruction to suspend work on the construction of the dam around Lake Urmia.

Recently, Iran's Energy Minister, Hamid Chitchian said this group looked through all researches on Lake Urmia, which were carried out before, and prepared several projects on the basis of these studies.

Chitchian added that they will suspend survey into the construction of the dam around Lake Urmia intended to restore its water resources and explore the possibility for the water transfer into the lake from other water basins, including the Araz River and the Caspian Sea.

The area of Lake Urmia is the third largest salt water lake on earth, which has 6,000 square kilometers surface. During the migrations of birds the lake becomes their temporary home. The lake's drying up has an impact on the flora and fauna of the region. Experts on environmental issues say that the measures taken by the Iranian government are not enough to save the lake.

The project on directing 600 million cubic meters of water from Araz River into Lake Urmia was launched during a visit by former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and government officials to Tabriz in 2010. Some $1.2 billion is to be allocated to implement the project.

The Iranian government allocated $900 million to prevent Lake Urmia's drying up in September 2011.

Also, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has allocated $135 million to Iran to resolve environmental problems with shoaling of the lake.