No Large Dam Built in 2.5 Years

No Large Dam Built in 2.5 YearsNo Large Dam Built in 2.5 Years

An Energy Ministry advisor said despite the fact that Iran’s water reservoirs have declined by 20% in the past two decades, the government has not granted a permit for the construction of a large dam.

Mohammad Haj-Rasouliha also told Mehr News Agency that if a dam is built systematically, it would help control floods that will save ten times its construction costs.

Haj-Rasouliha referred to floodwater, which was held back by Gotvand Dam in Khuzestan Province in March 2015, and said the dam controlled a water stream with a flow rate of 5,000 cubic meters per second.

"This is while a flow rate of 3,000 cm/s is enough to inflict millions of dollars of losses on the provincial capital Ahvaz and add to its death toll," he said.

Construction of Gotvand Dam began in 2011, two years before the “environment-friendly government” of President Hassan Rouhani took office, and the dam has caused many environmental troubles for the oil-rich province.

Environmental officials say the dam contributed to the death of 400,000 palm trees along the banks of the river Arvand in 2014, by exponentially increasing the salinity of Karun River, which made the already harsh environment unbearable for palm trees.

The dam was constructed amid widespread protests from environmental activists and scientists who warned that the disadvantages of the dam outweigh its benefits.

Following claims earlier in 2015 by the Iran Water and Power Resources Company that the dam’s construction had the approval of the Department of Environment, the department issued a swift response, accusing the company of failure to disclose the presence of salt domes in the region in their proposal.

“Without utilizing dams, we cannot regulate incoming and outgoing waters of the country and we would have faced more severe water shortages,” Haj-Rasouliha said.

“We were really concerned about the provision of water for the port city of Bandar Abbas, but we could store the city’s annual water need in two local dams after the heavy rainfall a month ago."

While average rainfall is around 750 millimeters in the world, Iran’s average precipitation has fallen to around 200 mm in the past 15 years, down from 250 mm before a long and hard drought cast a shadow over the country.

According to official data, 10 provinces suffer from severe water shortage, while 23 provinces have experienced significant reduction in rainfall compared to previous years.

The official noted that if dams were not built near the capital Tehran,700-800 million cubic meters of the city’s drinking water need could not be supplied from any other sources.

On the criticisms of environmentalists against dam construction, Haj-Rasouliha noted that in the past two and a half years, the government has not issued any permit for the construction of a single large dam, while all stages of the projects and related studies are carefully monitored.

Iran is the world’s third leading country in dam construction, with some 200 contracting companies, 70 consultant firms and 30 corporations as well as hundreds of hydroelectric manufacturing units implementing projects in 40 countries.

Over the past three decades, it has built 600 dams, an average of 20 a year, to irrigate farms and provide electricity.