Water Transfer Project Inaugurated to Save Imperiled Lake Oroumiyeh in Iran

Water Transfer Project Inaugurated to Save Imperiled Lake Oroumiyeh in Iran

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi inaugurated a major project to transfer water to the Oroumiyeh (Urmia) Lake in northwestern Iran, aimed at preventing the large lake from shrinking.

The Iranian president, who has visited the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan, inaugurated the major water transfer project on Friday morning.

The transfer system includes nearly 36 kilometers of tunnels and 11 kilometers of canals that would transfer 300 million cubic meters of water to Lake Oroumiyeh per annum in the first phase.

During the second phase, a total of 600 million cubic meters of water will be transferred from the ‘Kanisib’ dam to ‘Naqade’ plain and the Oroumiyeh Lake basin every year.

Known as the biggest environmental project in the West Asia, the construction of the water transfer system began in 2015, but its completion had been delayed due to the lack of finances.

President Raisi also inaugurated another project, via videoconference, to transfer water from Shahid Kazemi dam to Lake Oroumiyeh. The latter dam will supply a total of 300 million cubic meters of water to the endangered lake per annum.

Situated in the mountains of northwest Iran, Lake Oroumiyeh used to be fed by 13 rivers and is designated as a site of international importance under the UN Convention on Wetlands that was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.

The lake has been shrinking since 1995 due to a combination of prolonged drought, over-farming and dams.

The catastrophe has threatened the habitat of shrimp, flamingos, deers and wild sheep and caused salt storms that pollute nearby cities and farms.

That triggered a coordinated effort to save the lake in 2013 -with a joint program between Iran and the UN Development Program.

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