Iran's water crisis highlighted by a shrinking saltwater lake

  • Updated: March 8, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Axolotl, a salamander known as the “water monster,” may have vanished from its only known natural habitat because of pollution and urban sprawl.

iran’s water crisis: a lake of salt

One of the world’s largest saltwater lakes — Iran’s Lake Oroumieh — has shrunk more than 80 percent to nearly 400 square miles in the past decade. At right, the wreckage of a boat is stuck in the solidified salts and sands at the lake. Salt-covered rocks that were once deep under water now sit in the middle of desert. Experts blame the shrinking lake on climate change, the damming of rivers and the pressure of irrigation from nearby farms. Experts fear the lake — famous in years past as a stopping point to see migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls — could disappear within two years if nothing is done. “Don’t blame nature and drought. Human beings, not climate change, are responsible for this situation. We dried up the lake because of our excessive demands and wrong methods. Now, we have to revive it ourselves. Five million people have to leave this region if the lake dies,” said Isa Kalantari, a scholar appointed by President Hassan Rouhani to lead the rescue team. Lakes in other parts of Iran are facing a similar crisis, though not as severe as at Oroumieh. But even in Tehran, authorities are making plans for possible rationing. Twenty plans have been proposed, including cloud-seeding to increase rainfall in the area and the building of pipelines to bring in more water. news services



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  • In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 photo, an abandoned boat is seen through the shattered window of an abandoned ship, both stuck in solidified salt at Lake Oroumieh, northwestern Iran. Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles) in the past decade. Lakes in other parts of Iran are facing a similar crisis, though not as severe as at Oroumieh. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

  • AP10ThingsToSee - In this Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 photo, two men walk toward salt-covered rocks that were once deep underwater at Lake Oroumieh, in northwestern Iran. Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles) in the past decade, mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water, experts say. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

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