Largest Lake in Mideast May Dry Up, Iran Lawmaker SaysLadane Nasseri
Urmia, the Middle East’s largest lake, is in danger of drying up as Iran’s Energy Ministry and local officials failed to ensure critical water transfers, Aftab News said, citing a lawmaker.
The energy ministry is not standing by its commitment regarding Urmia Lake, Nader Ghazipour, who represents the city of the same name in the Iranian parliament, was quoted as saying on Aftab’s website. No funds have been allocated for the lake and “efforts to remedy its critical condition are leading nowhere,” he said.
Urmia in northwestern Iran, one of the largest hyper-saline lakes in the world, is a UNESCO biosphere reserve, according to a United Nations report. The lake’s surface area has declined since the mid-1990s due to drought, increased water diversion for agriculture and mismanagement, it said.
Urmia Lake is now only a third full of water, Ghazipour said. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Tabriz and Urmia in 2011, criticizing authorities for minimal actions to save the lake, the UN said. A plan to transfer water from nearby Aras River wasn’t followed through on, Ghazipour said.