Iran Draws Special Plan to Save Oroumiyeh Lake
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian Department of Environment has a special plan for saving the Oroumiyeh Lake and wants to make sure it can help arrest the crisis and revert the lake to its previous situation, vice president and head of DOE said Wednesday.
“In the first session of the cabinet, there was a ratification on saving the Oroumiyeh Lake, which is to be followed up by the Energy Ministry and Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian ,” Masoumeh Ebtekar said in a meeting with the press.
She added that the Department of Environment is definitely pursuing the matter till revival of that national lake.
Oroumiyeh Lake is a salt lake in northwestern Iran near Iran’s border with Turkey.
The lake is between the Iranian provinces of East Azarbaijan province and West Azarbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea.
It is the largest lake in the Middle East, and the third largest saltwater lake on earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 square kilometers, and is protected as a national park by the Iranian Department of Environment.
On August 2, 2012, the head of Iran’s Department of Environment at the time, Mohammad-Javad Mohammadizadeh, announced that Iran and Armenia had agreed on transferring water from Armenia to reverse the critical fall in Oroumiyeh Lake’s water levels.
He also remarked, “Hot weather and a lack of precipitation have brought the lake to its lowest water levels ever recorded.”
Previously, Iranian authorities had announced a plan to transfer water from the Aras River, which forms part of the border between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, but the plan was abandoned due to Azerbaijan's objections.
Oroumiyeh Lake, home to migrating flamingos, pelicans, and gulls, has shrunk by 60% and could disappear entirely in just a few years, due to persistent drought, misguided irrigation policies, and the damming of rivers that feed it.
Beyond tourism, the salt-saturated lake threatens nearby agriculture, as storms sometimes carry the salt far afield. Experts worry about a "salt tsunami": the effect of as many as 10 billion tons of dry salt blowing in the desert winds.
Oroumyieh Lake is not short of minerals either and, like the Dead Sea, its soil, minerals and salts are used to cure various ailments such as rheumatism, and dermatological and stress-related problems.
The lake is a national asset, one of the environmental wonders of the world and can be one of the major attractions for international tourism, if it is saved in time.