Economy, Domestic Economy

Rural Areas Hit Hard by Water Crisis

Rural Areas Hit Hard by Water Crisis
Rural Areas Hit Hard by Water Crisis

The deputy of National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company (Abfa) said that this year has been one of the worst water years for rural areas, adding that the national water industry is facing serious problems.

Speaking in the southern province of Khuzestan, Shahin Pakroo stated that water companies across the country have received a total of 1,300 billion rials ($48.8 million) in finances since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21). Of this, he said, the biggest share -- which is about $3.75 million were allocated to water and wastewater projects in Khuzestan.

“This whole amount, however, is equal to only 30% of the annual losses in the country as a result of severe water shortages, which has reached about $150 million,” Donya-e Eghtesad quoted Pakroo as saying.

Pakroo also spoke of plans for construction of 1,200 water distribution facilities with a total financing of about 60,000 billion rials ($2.25 billion), and added that the feasibility studies of these projects have been completed.

Every year, water industry is provided with about 10,000 billion rials ($375 million) in funding from the surplus oil revenue. However, experts believe that due to the low budget allocated to this part of the national economy and given the water shortages facing the country, the situation cannot be sustained at the current level.

Pakroo added, “Regardless of the inflation rate, with this amount of financing, the estimated construction period for the new water units would be 15 years, considering the triple increase in prices of construction materials during the past decade.”

The main challenge facing the national water industry is consecutive droughts and a serious shortage of water resources. This is the result of a significant depletion in groundwater resources and a significant drop in the projected amount of water stored behind dams (reservoirs). The excessive water use in agriculture and industry has also affected the quality and amount of fresh drinking water.

Pakroo mentioned the drastic fall in precipitation rates as heavily contributing to the current water crisis, saying that the rural water and wastewater engineering company intends to increase the number of its subscribers to an acceptable level and has, thus, invested about 50,000 billion rials ($19 billion) in rural districts and another 200,000 billion rials ($75 billion) in urban areas.

As Pakroo explained, lack of funding has also had a negative impact on the projects and has slowed their progress. The government has begun to do vast contribution to the semi-finished projects but the shortcomings still prevail. Even though the price of water has been raised 20 percent, its share in households’ expenditure is still equal to zero.

The water industry has not yet found its proper place in Iran’s economy. Various domestic and international organizations, such as World Bank and ECO, have invested in this industry but these investments and other funds supplied from loans or other facilities only consist 50% of the finances needed in order to build infrastructures and solve the industry’s numerous problems.