Rains Bring Some Respite

Rains Bring Some Respite Rains Bring Some Respite

Relatively heavy rainfall —by Iranian standards — over the past 100 days has seen nearly nine billion cubic meters of water flow into Iran’s ever thirsty dams.

Iran’s average precipitation topped 117 millimeters since the beginning of the current water year (September 23, 2015), a 30% increase compared to the same period last year, according to Mohammad Hajrasouliha, an advisor to Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian.

So far this year, Iran has experienced a 45% rise in precipitation compared to the previous year (March 2014-15), and a 37% increase vis-à-vis the long-term average.

The amount of rainfall so far this year may be a sign of an even wetter winter, when nearly half of the country’s annual rain falls, according to Mehr News Agency.

“Should the current weather conditions hold through winter, it may alleviate our water problem to some extent,” he said.

  Not Out of the Woods

Recalling Iran’s 155 dams, he said they are all “in good shape” thanks to the unusually high precipitation which has led to a 35% increase in reservoir dam inflow this year, compared to the same 100-day period last year.

“However, this doesn’t mean we can take it easy now — efficient use of water must not be a temporary measure,” he warned, echoing Chitchian, who said last week that despite this year’s abundant rainfall, water may still need to be rationed “if consumption continues at the present unsustainable pace.”

Some have called on the ministry to raise water tariffs in an effort to encourage more judicious use of the scarce resource, but the minister said there are no immediate plans to increase the rates.

“Increasing the tariffs is vital in curbing water use,” said Shahin Pakrouh, a deputy at the ministry.

He said consumers pay 4,000 ($0.11) for every cubic meter of potable water, while the same costs the ministry 9,000 rials ($0.25) to produce.

  Prohibitive Consumption

According to Energy Ministry data, Iranians use about 250 liters of water per day on average, while daily consumption in metropolises such as Tehran may exceed 400 liters per person. If the numbers are correct, Iran’s water usage is twice the world standard.

The minister said poor management of water resources is the main cause of the mounting water crisis, a sentiment echoed by water experts and environmentalists for almost three decades. However, all pleas to rectify the situation have fallen on deaf ears.

Iran’s water reserves have taken a huge hit over the years due to gross mismanagement, overconsumption and wasteful farming practices. Additionally, urbanization and the population explosion over four decades have done nothing to alleviate the serious problem that could well transform large swathes of the country into barren land in less than a quarter century.

Geography too has done nothing to help as Ian is located in the world’s most water-stressed region. Considered a semi-arid country, Iran has been experiencing 15 years of drought, which has forced many rural folks —mostly farmers — to abandon their homes and move to larger cities in search of greener pastures.

With annual average rainfall of 205 mm — down 55 mm since the beginning of the current drought period — Iran’s yearly precipitation is a third of the global average.