Watershed Management Could Address Drought

Watershed Management Could Address DroughtWatershed Management Could Address Drought

Proper watershed management may be the only way out of the perpetual drought that has held a tight grip on Iran for over 17 years, according to an official at the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization.

“Watershed management projects have been carried out in about 27 million hectares across the country, and the government is aiming to expand the projects by 14 million hectares next year (starts March 20),” Parviz Garshasbi, deputy for watershed management, was quoted as saying by YJC.

Experts believe that watershed management projects must cover a total of 150 million hectares in Iran.

He lamented years of negligence toward the importance of watersheds and said that in the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-2016), watershed management projects across 8 million hectares should have been executed, but that never happened.

“The plan’s duration officially ends on March 20, and we’ve only covered 3.8 million hectares,” Garshasbi said.

Pointing to the benefits of watershed management, the official said these projects can help end the drought.

“Techniques such as flood dispersal, aquifer management and revival of natural resources in a watershed area can help reinforce groundwater resources,” he added. Every hectare under watershed management is said to produce 520 cubic meters of water.

Official reports suggest that every single one of Iran’s 31 provinces suffers from drought to some extent.

Drought is directly affected by lack of precipitation, high temperature and declining water reserves. The country’s prolonged dry spell — exacerbated by climate change and Iran’s location in an arid and semi arid region — has taken a toll on its groundwater levels to the extent that even if precipitation returns to normal levels, it will only help meet the domestic water demand and not restore underground water reserves.

In other words, normal rainfall will not be able to replenish the depleting groundwater reserves, as stated earlier by Shahrokh Fateh, director of National Drought Warning and Monitoring Center.

Due to declining precipitation in recent years, Iran’s surface water has decreased by an alarming 30%, doing nothing to alleviate the country’s ongoing struggle with drought.