Water Resources Management

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 129–145 | Cite as

Determining the Main Factors in Declining the Urmia Lake Level by Using System Dynamics Modeling

  • Elmira Hassanzadeh
  • Mahdi ZarghamiEmail author
  • Yousef Hassanzadeh


Urmia Lake in Iran is the second largest saline lake in the world. This ecosystem is the home for different species. Due to various socio-economical and ecological criteria, Urmia Lake has important role in the Northwestern part of the country but it has faced many problems in recent years. Because of droughts, overuse of surface water resources and dam constructions, water level has decreased in such a way that one quarter of the lake has changed to saline area in the last 10 years. The purpose of this research is to determine the main factors which reduce the lake’s water level. To this end, a simulation model, based on system dynamics method, is developed for the Urmia Lake basin to estimate the lake’s level. After successful verification of the model, results show that (among the proposed factors) changes in inflows due to the climate change and overuse of surface water resources is the main factor for 65% of the effect, constructing four dams is responsible for 25% of the problem, and less precipitation on lake has 10% effect on decreasing the lake’s level in the recent years. In the future, the model also can be used by managers as a decision support system to find the effects of building new dams or other infrastructures.


System dynamics Simulation Integrated lake management Surface water overuse Climate change 



The authors wish to thank the West and East Azarbayjan Regional Water Companies who provided the relative data. We also kindly appreciate the scientific advices of Dr. Abdolrahim Salvitabar.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elmira Hassanzadeh
    • 1
  • Mahdi Zarghami
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yousef Hassanzadeh
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Civil EngineeringUniversity of TabrizTabrizIran

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