Neglect not drought created Iran’s water crisis

Neglect not drought created Iran’s water crisis

By Reza Taghizadeh:

Water shortage has become a serious crisis in the Islamic Republic in recent years.

The total volume of the water in Tehran province's Lar reservoir dam with total capacity over 960 million cubic meters currently stands at 30 million cubic meters, of that amount only 18 million cubic meters can be used.

Lar is one of the five reservoirs that supply the capital city of Tehran with water. About 35 percent of the total water consumed in the capital comes from the Lar reservoir.

The Latian reservoir, another of Tehran 's water reservoirs is completely dried up and the capital's residents are faced with water shortage.

The public seems to have accepted that Lake Urmia is drying up, even though the fact is a disaster that will force millions of citizens to emigrate from the nearby areas, and sand storms will destroy agricultural area in East and West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces.

The Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian has announced that over 296 lakes and lagoons would share the fate of Lake Urmia in the near future.


Iran is located in an arid zone and the country has been repeatedly faced with drought in the past 40 years.

However the Islamic Republic is not the only country in the region faced with drought.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar are faced with drought and are mostly desert. Israelhas the Negev.

None of the countries have faced a water crisis so far, despite the drought and arid terrain.

The countries are continually increasing their water reserves through desalination of seawater, treatment and reuse of wastewaters, preventing the waste of water sources and efficiently use of water in the agriculture sector and factories as well as homes.

Since 2005 Israel has established five desalination units on the coast of the Mediterranean Seawith about a $400 million investment for each unit. In Israel 80 percent of urban water is supplied through desalination of the seawater. Over 80 percent of the wastewater is re-refined and reused in the country.

About 8 percent of the total water consumed in Jordan also comes from Israel.

Saudi Arabia exports water thanks to water desalination. The Arab state has established 27 desalination units since 1980, with capacity of producing 3 million cubic meters of fresh water per day. The units supply 80 percent of water consumption in Saudi Arabian cities.

Iran's water crisis is not just a result of drought. It is direct consequence of mismanagement in last 30 year. The Islamic Republic has not taken any serious steps towards projects such as seawater desalination or increasing the water usage efficiency.

Which percent of consumed and wastewaters are refined and return to water distribution system? What is the role of Iran 's private sector in producing water in the country, which the government controls 80 percent of its economy?

Iran is a rich country, capable of supplying water for its population of 200 million.

With the use of the unique resources of oil and gas the Islamic Republic can become green and prosperous in less than 8 years.

If Iran invests only $200 billion annually, despite costs imposed to the country by international sanctions upon its disputed nuclear program, it will be able to resolve the water crisis.

Reza Taghizadeh is an Iranian expert on political issues

Edited by CN

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