Persian Gulf Water Transfer Plan Underway

Persian Gulf Water Transfer Plan UnderwayPersian Gulf Water Transfer Plan Underway

The first operational phase of a plan to transfer seawater from the Persian Gulf to the most water-stressed regions across Iran has started, a deputy energy minister announced.

“Transferring the Persian Gulf’s water to Iran’s central areas, which suffer from severe water shortage, is a serious plan of the Energy Ministry and I can say it will become operational,” Rahim Meidani was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

Earlier in September, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said the ministry is studying plans to supply water from the Persian Gulf to three eastern Iranian provinces, which will help address the nationwide drought and water shortage that have particularly affected the eastern regions.

Meanwhile, the government has discussed the idea of importing water from neighboring countries, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan in particular. But it is still months away from reaching a major conclusion on water trade, according to Chitchian.

This is while experts effectively rule out water import from the northern neighbors, as they are already grappling with water shortage.

Underscoring that a private-sector investor has expressed readiness to undertake the mega water supply project, Meidani said the investor has started working on the project in Bandar Abbas in the south.

“Upon the completion of the first phase, 120 million cubic meters are to be transferred annually,” he said. However, due to the high cost of transferring water, the end-prices would be expensive compared to that of normal water supply.

“Consumers will have to pay around $3.2 for every cubic meter of desalinated and transferred water,” he said.

There is no consensus on transferring seawater, either from the Persian Gulf in south or the Caspian Sea in the north, to the central plateau.  Experts have serious doubts about the plan because of scientific and legal problems as other countries hold shares in the seas. In addition, discharging wastewater of desalination units will damage the environment.   

Meidani said the transferred water can be used in industrial units, mines or for drinking, and if the measures adopted by the ministry for supplying water to populated areas by traditional methods go nowhere, Iran will be obliged to deliver seawater to water-stressed regions.

While average rainfall is around 750 millimeters in the world, 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.