Drying Lakes: A Review On The Applied Restoration Strategies And Health Conditions In Contiguous Areas
Decrease of saline lakes, which comprise 44% of all available lake water, is a major concern. It additionally accelerates the desertification process of the region. Thus, various countries have taken different actions in protecting their lake water levels. The aim of this paper is to assess different strategies directed to tackle the decreased lake water levels in Lake Urmia and the Aral Sea, which split into the North Aral Sea and South Aral Sea. These are among the world’s largest and fastest drying saline lakes observed in the past 50 years and have both reduced to 10% of their original size. The paper presents a thorough review of academic reports, official documents, and databases. Although the dry-up of a lake is a natural process, it has been sped up by human interventions in the hydrological cycle. Dust storms (strong winds) cause problems in the surroundings. In the case of the Aral Sea, they transmit the pollutants from the dry lake bed causing severe health issues. Various strategies were implemented to manage the socio-economic conditions caused due to the drying of lakes. The strategy implemented for the North Aral Sea was to restore the lake by reducing the water withdrawals from the Syr Darya river, which lead to increased water inflow to the sea. The suggested strategy for Lake Urmia was to restore the lake by water transfer activities from various water sources. These projects have not yet been realized. The strategy implemented for the South Aral Sea was to use a dry lake bed to diversify the economy by oil and mineral extraction along with developing a tourist industry based on the considerable interest to come and observe an ecological disaster of such monumental proportions. These findings show that there is no common best solution for this type of problem. The best fit depends on the local context and it is strongly path-dependent.