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Lake Hamoun (Iran) in dire trouble
Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Lake Hamoun in Iran in dire trouble due to drought, water mismanagement and transboundary water rights problems

September 18, 2001

Iran is in the midst of its worst drought in 30 years, heightening problems caused by poor water management, transboundary problems with Afghanistan, climate change, and rapid population growth. The country's largest body of freshwater, Lake Hamoun is now rapidly turning to desert and 100 nearby villages are disappearing beneath sand.

According to the New York Times, two years ago, fisherman "pulled around 12,000 tons of fish from the lake, last year just 400 tons." Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds (flamingos ducks, egrets and pelicans, "staggered around, disoriented by the lack of fish or water and then flew off elsewhere".

The Taliban government in Afghanistan controls a major dam on the Hirmand River, which apparently is a major source of water to Lake Hamoun. According to the NY Times, "although a 30-year-old agreement specifies that some water flow even in dry years, they completely severed the flow."

Inefficient water use in the country is part of the problem. About 70 percent of water used for irrigation is lost due to poor pipes and inadequate drainage. And in recent times, per capita water use in Tehran has been 63 gallons a day, compared to about 32 gallons in Western Europe, according to the U.N.

Information drawn from New York Times, "Drought chokes off Iran's water and its economy", by Neil MacFarquhar, 18 Sept. 2001.

LakeNet note: Lake Hamoun has been identified in a preliminary assessment as one of 250 lakes that support globally significant biodiversity.

 

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