IRNA – Head of Lake Urmia Restoration Project Farhad Sarkhosh said that the extent of Lake Urmia has increased by 1,100 square kilometers and reached 2,814 square kilometers compared to the same period last year.
Speaking to IRNA, Sarkhosh said that Lake Urmia’s water level has increased by 1.02 meter compared to its lowest registered record.
He added that the lake’s water level currently stands at 1,271.28 meters, which is 102 centimeters above the same period last year.
Sarkhosh noted that despite a stop in the flow of streams into the lake due to hot season, the water level and surface area of the lake are in a much better than the previous years.
Lake Urmia, located between East and West Azarbaijan provinces, was once the largest salt-water lake in the Middle East. It is home to many migratory and indigenous animals, including flamingos, pelicans, egrets and ducks and attracts hundreds of tourists every year who had bathed in the water to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the lake.
Urmia Lake began shrinking in the mid-2000s due to decades of long-standing drought spells and elevated hot summer temperatures. According to international statistics, the lake lost about 80% of its waterbed by 2015.
In a coordinated effort to save the lake in 2013, Iran started a joint project with the UN Development Program (UNDP) funded by the Japanese government. The rejuvenation effort therefore focused on redirecting rivers to irrigate farmland, thus avoiding use of water from the lake, and the promotion of more sustainable farming methods.
The provincial environment officials hoped that the lake would reach its ecological level by 2025.