The lake’s surface area has been estimated to have been as large as 6 100 km2 but since 1995 it has generally been declining and was estimated from satellite data to be only 2 366 km2 in August of 2011 (Landsat data). The decline is generally blamed on a combination of drought, increased water diversion for irrigated agriculture within the lake’s watershed and mismanagement . In addition, a causeway has been built across the lake with only a 1 500 m gap for water to move between the northern and southern halves of the lake. It has been suggested that this has decreased circulation within the lake and altered the pattern of water chemistry; however evidence suggests that the impact of the causeway on the uniformity of water chemistry in the lake has been minimal. The unfolding ecological disaster threatens to leave much of the lake bed a salt-covered wasteland. Scientists have warned that continued decline would lead to increased salinity, collapse of the lake’s food chain and ecosystem, loss of wetland habitat, wind blown “saltstorms,” alteration of local climate and serious negative impacts on local agriculture and livelihoods as well as regional health .
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the cities of Tabriz and Urmia in late August and early September 2011 saying that authorities have done too little to save the lake . Those around the lake fear a fate similar to that of the population surrounding the nearby Aral Sea, which has dried up over the past several decades. Disappearance of the Aral Sea has been an environmental disaster affecting people throughout the region with windblown salt-storms. The population surrounding Lake Urmia is much denser putting more people at risk of impact.
01.04.2012 - Protest against Environmental Crisis at lake Urmia in Azerbaijan