Expansion of Iran’s Urmia Lake water surface attracts tourists

Expansion of Iran’s Urmia Lake water surface attracts tourists

TEHRAN (Rahnuma): The expansion of water level of Iran’s northwest Urmia Lake over the past months has attracted tourists both from and out of Iran.

The lake, which has been on the verge of extinction over the past decades, began to expand following the two-month-long springtime showers that began pouring across the country in March.

The lake’s water surface has reached 3,231 square km, doubling the amount of last year, according to Aghil Aghdasi, an official with Regional Water Company of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Urmia Lake now holds 5.22 billion cubic meters of water, up over 100 percent compared with last year when the volume was 2.5 billion cubic meters, Aghdasi was quoted as saying by semi-official Mehr news agency.

Urmia Lake is a closed water body fed through 21 permanent and 39 seasonal rivers.

It was Iran’s largest inland body of water less than 20 years ago, however, it began drying up in the mid-2000s. According to international statistics, the lake lost about 80 percent of its waterbed by 2015.

Several dams constructed near the lake have choked off the water supply from the nearby mountains, contributing to the depletion of the lake. The construction of a 15-km causeway between Urmia and Tabriz cities has also exerted a severe impact on the reservoir.

In the meantime, the officials have geared up to implement the long-awaited plans, including water transfer from both domestic and foreign bodies, in order not to let the lake dry up again.

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