Water Scarcity in 3 Cities Alarming

Water Scarcity in 3 Cities AlarmingWater Scarcity in 3 Cities Alarming

Water scarcity in three southern Iranian cities of Bandar Abbas, Bushehr and Kerman is "alarming", Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian warned on Monday, adding that the ministry is mulling water imports from northern neighbors.

"Following low rainfalls and increased evaporation, the capacity of renewable water resources has plunged to 110 billion cubic meters nationwide from 130 bcm," Chitchian said, adding that water consumption has simultaneously increased significantly, Mehr News Agency reported.

He said average precipitation has fallen to 207 millimeters, from 229 mm in the previous year, while temperature has risen by 1.2 degree Celsius on average.

The minister referred to the long-discussed idea of water import from neighboring countries, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan in particular, and said negotiations have been held. However, he stressed that the ministry is still months away from reaching a major conclusion on water trade.

According to experts, the northern neighbors are grappling with water shortage and Iran might be able to import only a limited amount of water from Azerbaijan.

The official also called for judicious water consumption and said the government of President Hassan Rouhani has lowered water wastage nationwide from 26% when he took office in mid-2013 to 24.7% until March 2015.  However, the decline in consumption has come at an enormous cost of approximately $333 million, according to the minister. Deputy Interior Minister Esmaeil Najjar said in June more than 500 Iranian cities are facing drinking water shortage.

The UN has labeled the water crisis as Iran’s “most important human security challenge in the coming decades”.