Water Security is National Security

Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Anxieties mount in drought-stricken California

Ryan Jacobsen and his family have been farming their land for four generations. His ancestors were Volga Germans from the territories surrounding Russia's Volga River. More than 100 years ago, they settled in central California, in the town of Fresno, about a two-hour's drive southeast of San Francisco. They cultivated wine and grew fruits and vegetables. Jacobsen likes to talk about the past with his grandfather, who is now over 90 years old, but now, the dry spell is the only issue.

"The drought here in San Joachin Valley is absolutely the worst we've ever seen. And what we're looking at as far as this year, we're looking at hundreds of thousands of acres being fallowed, tens of thousands of jobs being lost, and billions of dollars of economic activity not coming to this community," said the 34-year-old farmer.

It has hardly rained in the last three years. The tall, lanky Ryan stands in front of one of his fields and shows how economically he and the farmers in the neighborhood use the precious water. Long hoses, which lay a few inches beneath the surface, lead the water straight to the roots of the turnips. The water is transported many miles through canals to the fields and originates from nearby reservoirs.

"Nothing evaporates here," Jacobsen said.

Big water bills

One local water supply is the San Luis Reservoir. During the winter, it's generally filled up to the rim due to rainy weather in the cold season. In the spring, melt water from the mountains also fills the reservoir. But because of the lack of rain, the reservoir is only 40 percent filled. What's usually a green shore now resembles a brown lunar landscape. And it becomes wider and wider the more the water level drops.

The water from this reservoir is expensive. Farmers pay around $100 (73 euros) to irrigate a small field for a few hours, which means the cost of cultivating crops increases. But higher costs for the products can't always be passed on to consumers. The competition in the agriculture business is stiff. Strawberries, grapes and nuts from Latin American countries are increasingly entering the US market.

"Eventually, you reach a point where farming isn't worth it," said Fotis Bilios. He works on a big farm that employs 300 workers and is located half an hour's drive from Fresno. Thousands of seasonal workers also help at the site to generate an annual turnover of $80 million. But the profits are plummeting now that rain is scarce.

"A quarter of the 7,100 hectares of farmland lies fallow," said the 43-year-old during a tour through the area. The "Stamoulis" farm is one of the most modern farms in California, and Bilios expects it will survive the drought. "It's a lot more difficult for many small farms," he added.

Facing financial ruin

Hundreds of farmers face bankruptcy, says Juliet Christian-Smith from the Union of Concerned Scientists environmental organization in San Francisco. It might rain occasionally in the coming months, but it won't be enough to fill the reservoirs. That's a bleak prospect for agriculture - the most important economic sector in California, with 50 billion dollars in revenues per year.

When asked why there's no more rain, Christian-Smith says she believes it is caused by climate change.

"There's very high consensus around increasing droughts in the future related to global climate change, because not only are we having earlier snow melts and less snow pack, which is one of our largest water reservoirs in the western US, but we're also having hotter temperatures, which means that outdoor plants require more water to survive," she said.

California's Governor Jerry Brown has made efforts at raising awareness of climate change issues and recently declared a state of drought emergency. Authorities estimate that around 200,000 hectares of land can't be used due to current conditions. The resulting damages amount to five billion dollars, the government estimates.

Another reason for the drought is that California's population has doubled to 38 million people over the last four decades. More people mean more water is consumed.

Fotis Bilios - like most of the farmers - does not speak highly of the government. He believes that too much water is being pumped into the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. "What's more important - that the people are able to take long showers or that they have food?"

The fight for water has only just begun. More


Monday, February 17, 2014

Will Water Constrain Our Energy Future?

Energy and water security are crucial to human and economic development. The two resources are now more interconnected than ever -- significant amounts of water are needed in almost all energy generation processes, from generating hydropower, to cooling and other purposes in thermal power plants, to extracting and processing fuels. Conversely, the water sector needs energy – mainly in the form of electricity – to extract, treat and transport water. Both energy and water are used in the production of crops, including those used to generate energy through biofuels.

But energy and water resources are under unprecedented pressure, and there is growing competition for their use from people, industries, ecosystems, and growing economies. As the world’s population reaches 9 billion, demand will require a 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in already-strained water withdrawals. By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35 percent, which in turn will increase water use by 15 percent and consumption by 85 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

Climate change will add more uncertainty through increased water variability and more frequent and severe floods and droughts. Energy systems are becoming ever more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As temperatures get warmer, so do the rivers and lakes that power plants draw their cooling water from - which makes it harder to generate electricity in the coming decades.

“We cannot meet our global energy goals of extending access to the poor, increasing efficiency and expanding renewables without water. The water energy interrelationship is critical to build resilient as well as efficient, clean energy systems. The time to act is now,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Risks to the energy sector

Water scarcity is already threatening the long-term viability of energy projects worldwide. Last year alone, water shortages shut down thermal power plants in India, decreased energy production in power plants in the United States and threatened hydropower capacity in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China and Brazil. More


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Brazil rations water in 140 cities amid worst drought in decades

Over 140 Brazilian cities have been pushed to ration water during the worst drought on record, according to a survey conducted by the country's leading newspaper. Some neighborhoods only receive water once every three days.

Water is being rationed to nearly 6 million people living in a total of 142 cities across 11 states in Brazil, the world's leading exporter of soybeans, coffee, orange juice, sugar and beef. Water supply companies told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the country's reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they have been in 20 years. A record heat wave could raise energy prices and damage crops.

Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state (which accounts for one-quarter of Brazil's population and one-third of its GDP), only receive water once every three days, for a total of 13 hours.

Brazil's water utility company Sabesp said on its website that the Cantareira water system (the largest of the six that provide water to nearly half of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo) is at less than 19 percent of its capacity of 1 trillion liters. The company described the situation at Cantareira as"critical": the amount of rain registered in the month to January was the lowest in 84 years. Sabesp said the other five water supply systems in Sao Paulo's metropolitan area were normal for this time of year, however.

The PCJ Consorcio water association said the area would have to see 17 millimeters of rain a day for two months until Cantareira's water level recovers to 50 percent of its capacity.

Average reservoir levels in the southeast and central-west regions, which account for up to three-thirds of Brazil's hydroelectric power generation, fell to 41 percent in late January.

January was the hottest month on record in parts of the country, including in Sao Paulo. The heat, plus a severe drought, has raised concerns over growing water shortages and crop damage. According to Brazil's national meteorological institute INMET, Sao Paulo's average maximum daily temperature so far this year was 31.9 degrees Celsius (89.4 degrees Fahrenheit), a degree hotter than the previous January record and surpassing February 1984 as the city's hottest month ever.

According to the state meteorological agency in Ceara state, the northeast of the country is also experiencing its worst drought in at least 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of cattle have died from heat exhaustion, and farmers are getting desperate. "I have never seen a drought like this,” Ulisses de Sousa Ferraz, an 85-year-old farmer in Pernambuco state, told Reuters, adding that he has lost 50 cows. “Everything has dried up." More


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Climate change and the world’s coasts

Coastal regions may face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the course of the 21st century.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global average storm surge damages could increase from about 10-40 billion USD per year today to up to 100,000 billion USD per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken. The study lead by the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum (GCF) presents, for the first time, comprehensive global simulation results on future storm surge damages to buildings and infrastructure. Drastic increases in these damages are expected, on one hand, due to rising sea-levels and, on the other hand, due to population and economic growth. Asia and Africa may be particularly hard hit because of their rapidly growing coastal mega-cities, such as Shanghai, Manila or Lagos.

“If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” explained Jochen Hinkel from GCF and the study’s lead author. In 2100, up to 600 million people (around 5 percent of the global population) could be affected by coastal flooding if no adaptation measures are put in place. “Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options,” urged Hinkel. With such protection measures, the projected damages could be reduced to below 80 billion USD per year during the 21st century. The researchers found that investments level of 10 to 70 billion USD per year could achieve such a reduction.

Prompt action is needed most in Asia and Africa, where today large parts of the population are

already affected by storm surge flooding. Yet even Germany must invest in coastal protection. It is not only dikes that are needed however. Alternative and more flexible coastal protection measures that better fit the natural environmental should also be developed. Examples of such alternatives to dikes are the reintroduction of mangrove forests, the rehabilitation of coastal dunes or artificial oyster banks.

Meeting the challenge of adapting to rising sea-levels will not be easy. “Poor countries and heavily impacted small-island states are not able to make the necessary investments alone. They need international support,” explained Hinkel. Adding to the challenge, international finance mechanisms have thus far proved sluggish in mobilising funds for adapting to climate change, as the debate on adaptation funding at the recent climate conference in Warsaw once again confirmed.

“If we do not reduce greenhouse gases swiftly and substantially, some regions will have to seriously consider relocating significant numbers of people in the longer run,” explained Hinkel. Yet regardless of how much sea-level rise climate change brings, careful long-term regional and urban planning can ensure that development in high-risk flood zones is avoided. This long-term perspective is however a challenge to bring about, as coastal development tends to be dominated by short-term interests of, for example, real-estate and tourism companies, which prefer to build directly at the waterfront. More


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Epic California drought and groundwater: where do we go from here?

Yesterday the team at the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling released a report on the California drought. The report describes the birds-eye view of statewide water resources that we see from the NASA GRACE satellite mission.

We’ve been working since the mid-1990’s, well before the mission was launched in 2002, to develop and test methods to help monitor groundwater depletion from space. We’ve applied them around the world — in California, across the U. S., in the Middle East, East Africa, in the Amazon River basin and in India.

Our endgame is simple. We want to use GRACE and other satellites, combined with invaluable measurements on the ground, to help quantify how regional and global freshwater availability is changing.

The good news is that the methods work great. The GRACE mission functions like a giant ‘scale in the sky,’ weighing how various regions around the world are gaining and losing water each month. We can see the ups and downs of ‘total’ water storage – all of the snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater – like never before.

The bad news is that we are running out of groundwater.

In particular, this is happening in the places that we need it most — the dry parts of the planet where we love to live, precisely because it does not rain. Out of necessity, our reliance on groundwater in these parts of the world is much greater than elsewhere.

Our team and several others around the globe are showing that most of major aquifers in world’s arid and semi-arid regions are being depleted at a rapid pace, and one that is most likely unsustainable in the long term. Groundwater is a finite resource after all.

What has GRACE shown us about California?

Our earlier study showed that between October, 2003 and March, 2010, the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins lost about 30 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly the equivalent of the full volume of Lake Mead. Of this, we determined that about two-thirds was due to groundwater depletion in the Central Valley.

During the drought of 2006-2010, state and federal surface water allocations were drastically reduced, forcing farmers to tap groundwater reserves far more heavily than in ‘normal,’ wetter years. The resulting volume of depleted groundwater was so great that it was registered by a satellite ‘scale’ that orbits about 400 km above Earth’s surface.

Our new report is an update to this previous work, and it points to one critical question for California.

One of the key numbers to emerge from the report is that the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins have already lost 10 cubic kilometers of fresh water each year in 2012 and 2013.

To put that number in perspective, it is roughly the amount of water used by the entire population of California, for household, municipal and industrial use (that is, for nearly everything else besides agriculture and environment). It is also the steepest decline in total water availability that our team has witnessed in the 12 years that we have been monitoring California water resources with the GRACE mission. More


Sunday, February 2, 2014

California on track for having the worst drought in 500 years

LOS ANGELES — The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.

State officials said they were moving to put emergency plans in place. In the worst case, they said drinking water would have to be brought by truck into parched communities and additional wells would have to be drilled to draw on groundwater. The deteriorating situation would likely mean imposing mandatory water conservation measures on homeowners and businesses, who have already been asked to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who was governor during the last major drought here, in 1976-77.

This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog.

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” said B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Already the drought, technically in its third year, is forcing big shifts in behavior. Farmers in Nevada said they had given up on even planting, while ranchers in Northern California and New Mexico said they were being forced to sell off cattle as fields that should be four feet high with grass are a blanket of brown and stunted stalks.

Fishing and camping in much of California has been outlawed, to protect endangered salmon and guard against fires. Many people said they had already begun to cut back drastically on taking showers, washing their car and watering their lawns.

Rain and snow showers brought relief in parts of the state at the week’s end — people emerging from a movie theater in West Hollywood on Thursday evening broke into applause upon seeing rain splattering on the sidewalk — but they were nowhere near enough to make up for record-long dry stretches, officials said.

“I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,” said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, a statewide coalition. “We are talking historical drought conditions, no supplies of water in many parts of the state. My industry’s job is to try to make sure that these kind of things never happen. And they are happening.”

Officials are girding for the kind of geographical, cultural and economic battles that have long plagued a part of the country that is defined by a lack of water: between farmers and environmentalists, urban and rural users, and the northern and southern regions of this state.

“We do have a politics of finger-pointing and blame whenever there is a problem,” said Mr. Brown. “And we have a problem, so there is going to be a tendency to blame people.” President Obama called him last week to check on the drought situation and express his concern.

Tom Vilsack, secretary of the federal Agriculture Department, said in an interview that his agency’s ability to help farmers absorb the shock, with subsidies to buy food for cattle, had been undercut by the long deadlock in Congress over extending the farm bill, which finally seemed to be resolved last week.

Mr. Vilsack called the drought in California a “deep concern,” and a warning sign of trouble ahead for much of the West.

“That’s why it’s important for us to take climate change seriously,” he said. “If we don’t do the research, if we don’t have the financial assistance, if we don’t have the conservation resources, there’s very little we can do to help these farmers.”

The crisis is unfolding in ways expected and unexpected. Near Sacramento, the low level of streams has brought out prospectors, sifting for flecks of gold in slow-running waters. To the west, the heavy water demand of growers of medical marijuana — six gallons per plant per day during a 150-day period — is drawing down streams where salmon and other endangered fish species spawn.

“Every pickup truck has a water tank in the back,” said Scott Bauer, a coho salmon recovery coordinator with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There is a potential to lose whole runs of fish.”

Without rain to scrub the air, pollution in the Los Angeles basin, which has declined over the past decade, has returned to dangerous levels, as evident from the brown-tinged air. Homeowners have been instructed to stop burning wood in their fireplaces.

In the San Joaquin Valley, federal limits for particulate matter were breached for most of December and January. Schools used flags to signal when children should play indoors. More


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nile Delta disappearing beneath the sea

El Rashid, Egypt - It only takes a light covering of seawater to render land infertile, so Mohamed Saeed keeps a close watch on the sea as it advances, year after year, towards his two-hectare plot of land. The young farmer, whose clover field lies just 400 metres from Egypt's northern coast, reckons he has less than a decade before his field - and livelihood - submerges beneath the sea.

Nile Delta

But even before that, his crops will wither and die as seawater infiltrates the local aquifer. The process has already begun, he says, clutching a handful of white-caked soil.

"The land has become sick," says Saeed. "The soil is saline, the irrigation water is saline, and we have to use a lot of fertilisers to grow anything on it."

Spread over 25,000 square kilometres, the densely populated Nile Delta is the breadbasket of Egypt, accounting for two-thirds of the country's agricultural production, and home to 40 million people. Its northern flank, running 240 kilometres from Alexandria to Port Said, is one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the world, facing the triple threat of coastal erosion, saltwater infiltration, and rising sea levels.

According to Khaled Ouda, a geologist at Assiut University, a 30-centimetre rise in sea level would inundate 6,000 square kilometres of the Nile Delta. The flooding would create islands out of an additional 2,000 square kilometres of elevated land - isolating towns, roads, fields, and industrial facilities.

"The total [area of the Delta] expected to be impacted by a rising of the sea level by one metre during this century will be 8,033 square kilometres, which is nearly 33 percent of the total area of the Nile Delta," says Ouda.

You can build all the walls you want, but it won't stop the seawater from advancing underground. - Osman El-Rayis, chemistry professor at Alexandria University

In a report released in September 2013, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a sea level rise of 28 to 98 centimetres by 2100, more than twice its 2007 projections. Even by the most conservative estimate, this would destroy 12.5 percent of Egypt's cultivated areas and displace about eight million people, or nearly 10 percent of the population.

But it is not just rising sea levels that threaten Egypt's northern coast: The delta itself is sinking.

Prior to the building of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, more than 120 million tonnes of silt washed down the Nile each year and accumulated in its delta. Without this annual silt flow to replenish it, the Nile Delta is shrinking - in some places the coastline is receding by as much as 175 metres a year.

The Egyptian government has attempted to slow the sea's advance by building a series of breakwaters and earthen dykes along the northern coast and its waterways. Piles of concrete blocks help reduce coastal erosion, but without new sedimentation, the delta land has compacted and thousands of hectares now lie at sea level.

"You can build all the walls you want, but it won't stop the seawater from advancing underground," says Osman el-Rayis, a chemistry professor at Alexandria University. "The saltwater rots fields from below, killing plant roots and leaving behind salts [as it evaporates] that render the soil infertile."

El-Rayis warns that as the delta substratum becomes more porous, seawater has begun to infiltrate the Nile Delta aquifer, a vital source of underground water spread over 2.5 million hectares.

Saltwater has always been a threat to coastal agricultural land, but salinity was traditionally kept in check by a steady flow of freshwater covering the soil and flushing out the salt. As Egypt's population has expanded, upstream demand on water has increased, reducing the amount of Nile water that reaches the Delta. What does trickle in these days is choked with sewage and industrial toxins.

Faced with rising water levels and increased salinity, many farmers have abandoned their land or switched to fish farming. Others have resorted to adding sand or soil to their fields to keep them above the brackish water.

The sand is drawn from the dunes that line much of Egypt's northern coast and act as natural barriers against the advancing sea. The plundering of these dunes for construction materials and fill has made the Nile Delta yet more vulnerable to a rise in sea level.

Scientists have proposed measures to protect the Delta lowlands from the sea's incursion. They say the priority is to slow beach erosion by preserving natural coastal defences such as sand dunes, while building seawalls along the 240-kilometre coast that are strong enough to hold back the Mediterranean.

"These walls would be built facing the sea in places where low-lying gaps occur along the beach," says Ouda.

He explains that, in order to be effective, the barriers must include an impermeable substructure extending from three to 13 metres below sea level that prevents seawater from infiltrating freshwater aquifers.

The size is as formidable as the expected cost. One proposal submitted by Egyptian engineer Mamdouh Hamza put the price tag at $3bn. The plan envisions building a concrete wall along the Delta's entire coastline and skirting it with a plastic diaphragm to prevent saltwater seepage.

Ouda says the mega-project would be cost-effective in that it would save the Nile Delta lands, but it is unlikely to attract the necessary capital. He doubts Egypt's cash-strapped government could cover the costs, while the international community appears unwilling to offer a lifeline.

"The project to establish the coastal walls is a service project… without economic gain and, thus, you will not find a financier for this project from companies or foreign governments," Ouda says.

Yet some have argued that as Western nations are most responsible for climate change, their governments should foot the bill on behalf of the developing nations most impacted by its consequences. More


The Water Levels Of The Middle East’s Biggest Lake Have Dropped 95 Percent In Two Decades

According to the local environmental office in Iran, only five percent of the water remains in the biggest lake in the Middle East.

Lake Urmia sits in the far northwest corner of Iran, and was once the sixth largest saltwater lake in the world — slightly bigger than Utah’s Great Salt Lake. It’s relatively shallow, so the water drop has exposed huge tracts of land. Hamid Ranaghadr, an Iranian environmental official, told the New York Times that areas of the lake that were once under 30 feet of water are now dry and dusty lake beds. “We just emptied it out,” he said.

Being saltwater, Lake Urmia was never fit for drinking water or agriculture. But its collapse is indicative of the way climate change and poor water management has driven Iran into a potentially catastrophic water shortage. Dam construction recently increased throughout the country, both to provide badly needed electricity and water supplies for irrigation. But that’s also diverted massive amounts of the freshwater that formerly flowed into Lake Urmia. Other major rivers throughout the country have gone dry, and the dust from the riverbeds and the salt from Lake Urmia’s dried basin are now a form of pollution unto themselves. (Four of the world’s ten most polluted cities can be found in Iran.) Major cities around the country — including the capital of Tehran, home to 22 million — are making contingency plans for rationing. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently named water as a national security issue, and demonstrations and riots over water supplies have already erupted.

The collapse began in the mid-1990s. One local villager told the Times that he noticed the shoreline receding two decades ago, and now it’s no longer visible from his community. According to a 2012 study by the United Nations, 65 percent of the decline can be chalked up to climate change and the diversion of surface water cutting inflow to the lake. Another 25 percent was due to dams, and 10 percent was due to decreased rainfall over the lake itself.

A long drought in Iran ended two years ago, but the recent boost to rainfall has not been able to offset the other effects on the lake. Average temperatures around Lake Urmia rose three degrees in just the past ten years. In Pakistan, which sits along Iran’s southeast border, has seen its snowmelt and river flow reduced by climate change. That’s led to both political strife domestically, and to a strained relationship with India, which is building dams along the Indus River — Pakistan’s main source of freshwater. And research from the the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany found water resources in northwest Iran could drop 50 percent should global warming increase by just 2°C.

The world is currently on track to blow past 2°C by the end of the century.

After the water is diverted away, a lot of it is used recklessly. Ranaghadr and other experts point to inefficient irrigation techniques such as spraying, which allows most of the water to evaporate uselessly from the fields. His department calculated that around 90 percent of the water that should flow into Lake Urmia is sprayed instead, and President Rouhani has estimated that Iran’s uses 92 percent of its water for agriculture, versus 80 percent in the United States.

“They turn open the tap, flood the land, without understanding that in our climate most of the water evaporates that way,” Ali Reza Seyed Ghoreishi, a member of the local water management council, told the Times. “We need to educate the farmers.”

The Iranian government also attempted to promote agriculture by breaking large landholdings into smaller properties. Most of the new owners promptly dug new wells to supply their crops, draining the groundwater. “There are around 30,000 legally dug wells and an equal amount of illegal wells,” said Seyed Ghoreishi. “As the water is becoming less, they have to dig deeper and deeper.”

Efficient water management generally requires either a working market where prices keep supply and demand tethered, or well-developed public institutions to manage the supply. Unfortunately, the developing world often has neither. A coalition of groups over the United Nations tried to quantify, in dollar terms, water use around the globe in April of 2013. They found West Asia, where Iran can found,was the third-most costly regional user of water in the world, right behind East Asia and North Africa.

Thanks to budget choices and international sanctions, Iran has not made any money available to restoration efforts for Lake Urmia. Iranian officials told the Times the lake is, at this point, probably unsalvageable.