The level of water at the endangered Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran is rising thanks to heavy rains flowing into the lake through a newly-opened water transfer system.
Local officials in Iran’s province of West Azerbaijan, where Lake Urmia is located, said on Thursday that water levels in the lake will increase to above two billion cubic meters (m3) in the next 24 hours.
The figure is a first for Lake Urmia in more than decade and comes just more than a month after the government opened a costly project to transfer water from neighboring Kordestan province as part of its efforts to revive the endangered salt lake.
West Azerbaijan Governor Mohammad Sadegh Motamedian said the supply of water from Kani Sib Dam to Lake Urmia had reached 35 m3 per second, adding that the amount could reach well above 50 m3 per second with continued rains in the region.
The 42-kilometer tunnel and canal system to transfer water to Lake Urmia has cost Iran some $200 million. Once it becomes fully operational, the project will make it possible to transfer some 600 million m3 of water per year to the endangered lake.
That comes on top of plans to transfer 200 million m3 of water per year from sewage treatment facilities in metropolitan cities of Tabriz and Urmia to prevent the lake from drying up. .
Experts believe it would take some five years for Lake Urmia to take some 3.4 billion m3 of water it needs to reach ecologically sustainable levels.