Abstract

During the last decade, the Urmia Lake has lost most of its surface area. As a result, finding management practices to restore the sustainable ecological status of Urmia Lake, the world's second largest hyper-saline lake, is imperative. In this study, the sustainability of different plans under climate change was assessed using system dynamics. The plans were evaluated with respect to sustainability criteria including reliability, resiliency, and vulnerability measures. According to the results due to different management practices, on average, water consumption should be reduced by at least 30% to restore the lake. The results revealed that only hybrid plans which incorporate multiple management practices, instead of focusing on just one approach, can be influential. Among the hybrid plans, increasing irrigation efficiency, reducing cultivated area, changing crop pattern, and inter-basin water transfer was identified as the most sustainable plan. About eight years after applying this plan, the lake will achieve its ecological level and will remain sustainable. Considering comprehensive factors, the proposed model can help watershed managers to take the necessary measures to restore this vital ecosystem. The results of this study can be applied to water resources systems having the same problem, especially those in semi-arid regions with multidisciplinary aspects.

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