World's second largest salt lake faces risk of drying out
Lake Urmia in South Azerbaijan (Iranian Azerbaijan) which is the largest lake in the Middle East and the second largest salt water lake on earth faces the risk of drying out. While the 60 percent of the lake water has already dried the experts warns that if necessary precautions are not taken the lake will dry out completely in a couple of years.
In terms of salt reserves the Lake Urmia is the second biggest lake after Great Salt Lake in the USA. If the lake continues drying like this it will no longer be counted among the lakes and will turn into a peace of salty land in upcoming years.
60 percent has already dried
The Urmia Environmental Protection Agency reported that the 60 percent of the lake water has dried. While stressing that the salt rate has already exceeded the normal rate the agency stated that it also threatens the life around the lake. The drying lake is also affects the livelihood of the population in the area.
The dams built more and more on the rivers are shown as the main reason for the drying. It is also reported that industrial waste reaching the lake it also another threat for the lake.
A research conducted by the University of Urmia in May 2008 indicated that the lake will turn into a salty land with a surface of 4 thousand kilometre square in 7 seven years. Lake Urmia with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km² contains 37 billion meter cube water. The lake is 135 km long and between 18 or 55 km wide. Its maximum depth is 16 meters.
The experts state that the situation has been critical for almost 10 years. For the last 15 years the level of water is steadily decreasing and drought of the last two years threatens the ecosystem in the area.
One of the biggest mineral stratum of the world
In 1976 the UNESCO has classified the shores of Lake Urmia as biosphere reserve. Beyond its natural beauty with its 8 billion meter cube mineral the lake is one of the biggest mineral stratums of the world.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency as of 2008, 120 thousand hectare of a total 520 thousand body has dried up. Sine 1995 the water level has dropped another 6 meters and it is getting worse year by year.
Flora and Fauna are under risk of extinction
As the water rate lowers the salt rate per a litre reaches 330 grams. This rate in Dead Sea is only 275 grams per a litre. The salty areas also constitute threat for the migratory birds. Artemias also cannot reproduce in the lake. Whole flora and fauna are under risk of extinction. Lake Urmia hosts several different kinds of migratory birds including Flamencos, pelicans, ibis, storks, recurvirostra avosetta and gulls. The environmentalist also warns that deer and some other wild animals may also leave the area.
Hundreds villages may be evacuated
The situation also threats the agriculture and tourism in the region as a result of which hundreds of villages may be evacuated. Some ports can already not be used as the water has withdrawn.
The reasons are clear but no solution
In order to save the lake a national will is a must. However, the government is watching the lake to dry out. Although the reasons for the drying out are known the officials are not producing any solutions against it.