By Sara Rajabova
Iran says it needs the practice of the United Nations in solving the shoaling problem of the Lake Urmia, which is experiencing its worst drought condition for many years.
Governor General of Iran's West Azerbaijan province said Iran needs scientific experience of the UN to revive Lake Urmia and to preserve the province's environment effectively, IRNA news agency reported.
Qorbanali Sa'adat made the remarks in a meeting with UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Haoliang Xu and UN residing Representative in Iran Gary Lewis and the accompanying delegation.
They traveled to Urmia city to visit Lake Urmia and the sustainable agricultural development process in the city.
Saˈadat said that in addition to credit support, Iran needs scientific help as well as the experience of international community and research work results in resolving the critical situation.
"When President Hassan Rouhani called for prompt reviving of the lake as one of his government priorities, we found the opportunity to work more in this field and obtain more experiences in this concern," Sa'adat said.
Iranian President Rouhani has established a working group to tackle the issue of Lake Urmia.
He also went on saying that as the country needs financial supports to save the lake, its most dire need is international experiences in this field.
Over 70 percent of Lake Urmia's water has dried up. The level of water has been declining since 1995.
Saˈadat added that the government officials had different meetings with researches from other countries from Europe and the U.S., but some of the researches feel restraint in offering their information to Iranian side.
He called on all researches and environment lovers to present their plans and programs to Iran in this regard.
The shoaling problem of Lake Urmia is a matter of concern not only for the Iranian government, but also other countries and international organizations of the world.
UN Resident Coordinator Lewis in October 2013 proposed ways to prevent the death of the world's largest saltwater lake, the Lake Urmia.
Lewis warned in his report that the slow death of the Lake Urmia signals a warning for the future.
UN Assistant Secretary General Xu voiced support for Iran's actions to save Lake Urmia and hoped they would lead to satisfactory results.
Xu said the crisis in the lake was a very significant issue.
He said his visit to the province was aimed at reviewing the joint programs, which the UN is undertaking with the Iranian government.
Xu referred to changing climate as the most important challenge to the global environment.
Lake Urmia, located in northwest of the country, is an internationally protected area as both a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a Ramsar Site.
"During our cooperation with Iran, we were able to offer three million dollars of credit sources for three pilot plans of Shadegan, Parishan and Urmia lakes and we expanded the results of these activities to settle other environmental problems," Xu further noted.
Xu added that 20 to 25 billion cubic meters of water is needed to revive Lake Urmia and it seems that there is a kind of imbalance between economic consumption, human consumption and the lake water needs.
The West Azerbaijan province environment officials said 90 percent of the lake has dried and it has turned into a salty field.
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.