The environmental catastrophe of Lake Urmia in Southern Azerbaijan - Iran

The largest lake in the Middle East is drying up due to a lack of rain, dam construction and poor water management.
An environmental disaster is unfolding in northwest Iran.
Lake Orumiyeh, which was once the largest lake in the Middle East, is rapidly drying up.
Water mismanagement, a lack of rain and the building of a nearby dam are some of the causes.
The Government has developed 19 solutions to try to save Orumiyeh.
Al Jazeera's Soraya Lennie reports from Orumiyeh. 

According to a February 2012 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, as lake levels decline, the exposed lake bed is left with a covering of salts, making a great salty desert on much of the 400 km² of lost surface area. These salt flats will not support agriculture and inhibit the growth of most natural vegetation. The salts are also susceptible to dispersion by wind and will likely create "salt-storms" like the ones that have resulted from the drying of the Aral Sea, located 1,200 km to the northeast of Lake Urmia. 

In recent years, the Iranian government has built dams on more than 20 tributaries feeding into the lake. Environmental organizations and experts claim that this damming, coupled with an environmentally damaging bridge linking the cities of Urmia and Tabriz, has reduced the flow of water into and within Lake Urmia, causing the majority of the lake to evaporate. 

The deterioration of Lake Urmia impacts 13 million local inhabitants, as well as the nations of Azerbaijan,Turkey, Iraq, and Armenia. According to Esmail Kahrom, a professor of environmental sciences at theUniversity of Tehran, if Lake Urmia dries up, “six to eight cities will be totally destroyed, covered by layers and layers of salt.”