January 06, 2017

New Year Update from Urmia Lake

Dear Friends

On behalf of Urmia Lake Restoration Program, I wish you and your dears a very happy new year. Hope you have a great time ahead. The following greetings card is the photo of Flamingos in Urmia Lake.



I would like to use this opportunity to update you on Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP)

You know that Urmia Lake located in north west of Iran is drying for last two decades because of climate change, improper water use especially in agriculture sector and damming the supplying rivers. It lost almost 90% of the of the area and water. The winter migrant Flamingos and White Pelicans are not coming to the lake because of dryness and hyper salinity. It reached above 500 gr/lit, which was 200 gr/lit originally. The dried bed of the lake contains almost 10 billion tones of salt, which can be carried over by wind to the farms and towns up to 500 km.  

The government of Iran took initiative in 2014 and developed a 10-year program named ULRP to save the lake. Fortunately, the program is working very well and could increase water level by 30 cm comparing to the last year, 22 Dec. 2015. The following chart shows the fluctuation of water level of the lake during last for years. It would better to mention that the deepest part of the lake is 2 meter at the present, which was 16 meter before desiccation.


The restoration of Urmia Lake is very complicated and needs technical support of world scientists and success stories of the other countries. 

It will be highly appreciated if you support us to save our lake by sharing your valuable experiences to bring Pelicans and Flamingos back to Urmia Lake.

I would like to invite you to see video clip on Urmia Lake


Best Regards,

Hossein Shahbaz 

International Cooperation Division

Urmia Lake Restoration Program



Seasons Greetings to you Hossein,

Thank you for your kind regards and for the update on Lake Urmia, which is certainly a very positive update. This of course adds to our sense of happiness for the coming New Year and for the future of our sister saline system so thank you twice. ( - :

It’s certainly fortuitous that the government of Iran took the initiative to address the great needs of Urmia and to say the least, the results that have occurred since 2014 - such a short time - are very impressive. Have you been experiencing significant moisture that has contributed to this condition? Lucky you. And lucky Lake. Please share what has contributed to this improvement.

In the meantime, although Great Salt Lake is still struggling here in Utah the current elevation in the south arm of Great Salt Lake is 4,192.3’ which is certainly a welcome change from our prolonged historic low elevations 4.191’ and below, but time will tell how this improvement perpetuates. On Christmas eve and day we received at least 6” of snow in the Salt Lake valley with significant accumulations (2’ +/- in the mountains. This is exactly the kind of weather cycle that we all hope for this time of year, and with any luck, it will continue through the spring and translate into welcome runoff.   

In the meantime, on behalf of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous New Year with good health, good friends and good things for Lake Urmia.

In seasonal saline,

Lynn de Freitas

Executive Director

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake