Water Tariffs to Rise

Water Tariffs to RiseWater Tariffs to Rise

The proposal by the Energy Ministry to hike water tariffs has been approved by the Economy Council with slight revisions, but no directives on raising the prices have been issued so far, Deputy Energy Minister Sattar Mahmoudi said.

"The ministry intended to increase tariffs by 20%, but the ratified amount stands at a lower rate due to revisions made by the Economy Council based on certain considerations," he said on the sidelines of the 11th International Water and Wastewater Exhibition that concluded on Tuesday, ISNA reported.

Noting that the water tariffs are currently not high for the lower and average consumer groups, he said high consumers will incur higher fees to compensate for the low fees paid by low and average consumers.

According to energy officials, water is a heavily-subsidized commodity and consumers pay only one-third of its real price in Iran.

Mahmoudi put the final price of water at approximately 40 cents (12,000 rials) per cubic meter, but said subscribers are not charged the entire amount.

Planning and development deputy of National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, Ali Asghar Qane', said water tariffs are planned to increase by 15% for high consumers and by 10% for subscribers abiding by the consumption pattern.

Stressing the huge gap between the current water fees, priced at less than one cent (3,000 rials) and what it costs the ministry to supply, he said the meager increase will not meet the needs of the water industry.

He proposed that the government push the current fees up to the total price under a five-year plan to alleviate the problems of the water sector. Iran is facing serious water scarcity due to overexploitation of water resources as well as drought and low precipitation.

Analysts say roughly 90% of the national water resources are wasted in the traditional agro sector, at a time when rainfall has reached its lowest levels in recent history.

Average rainfall is around 750 millimeters in the world, while Iran's average precipitation has fallen to 205 mm in the past 15 years, down from 250 mm before a long and hard drought cast a shadow over the country.

According to the Energy Ministry, water consumption is at a "reasonable" level for around 72% of consumers nationwide and the ministry's plan to raise water tariffs is not aimed at generating profit, but to curb its wasteful consumption.

Taking stock of water imports from Tajikistan in exchange for exporting gas, Mahmoudi said, "Interstate water transfers require specific technologies and strategic assessments."

According to Mahmoudi, the ministry is determined to supply water to regions with high water needs primarily from the nearest resources after factoring in the environmental ramifications.