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Iran Proposes Diverting Water from Araz River to Combat Shrinking of Lake Urmia

37.6N 45.4E

December 4th, 2012 Category: Lakes

Iran – December 2nd, 2012

Lake Urmia, at the northwestern tip of Iran, is one of the largest permanent hypersaline lakes in the world and the largest lake in the Middle East. It extends as much as 140 km from north to south and is as wide as 85 km east to west during high water level periods.

Lake Urmia has been shrinking, as can be seen from the salt flats ringing it. According to official figures, some 70 per cent of Lake Urmia spanning 6,000 square kilometers is shallow. Currently, a liter of lake water contains up to 400 grams of salt. Previously, the amount of salt per liter of water was 160-170 grams. The drying of the lake has an impact on the flora and fauna of the region, which alarms international organizations and regional countries.

Due to this issue, Iran has sent a proposal to Azerbaijan to transfer water from the Araz River in order to help save the drying lake. The project would consist of directing 600 million cubic meters of water from the Araz River into Lake Urmia. Although the two nations have recently discussed the issue, they have not yet reached an agreement.

Azerbaijan itself suffers from a lack of water, and the chairman of the State Committee of Land and Cartography has said the use of the waters of the Araz River to fill the shrinking Lake Urmia in Iran will have a negative impact on the environment of Azerbaijan.

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