BERLIN : International conference discusses saving Kurdish Lake Urmia

Edris Ahmed – BasNews (Iran): 26-11-2013 – The first international conference aimed at preventing Lake Urmia from drying up is due to be held in Berlin next Sunday. The event will focus on bringing international experience to the table, in order to prevent the complete drainage of the lake.

Hamid Chit Chitian, the Iranian Minister of Energy, explained that “Iranian, American and European experts will meet in Berlin to discuss proper solutions for the drying up of Lake Urmia.” According to Chitian, this is a rare occurrence, that has only taken place twice before, once for central Asia’s Aral Sea, as well as a lake in the USA.Environmental experts say that it is possible to save the lake from drying up, but it will take many years. The experience gained from the Aral Sea case will help to tackle this ecological disaster.

Lake Urmia started to dry up 18 years ago, due to climate change and dam constructions; it has already lost over 60% of its water. In 2011, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad instructed the relevant officials to pour 600 million cubic meters of water from Aras Dam into Lake Urmia, to prevent the drying up of the lake, but these instructions were never implemented.

Bahroz Abdul-Alwand, head of Khazar Research Center Organization and one of the organizers of the Berlin conference says: “Iranian and foreigner experts have already discussed the issues regarding Lake Urmia, and the Germans have been informed of the difficulties and issues.” Lake Urmia is the biggest salty lake in the Middle East. It is found near the Kurdish city of Urmia, in the Kurdish area of northwestern Iran, near Iran’s border with Turkey. The drying up of Lake Urmia will have a negative effect on the environment.