Iran Ex-Minister Derides "Ineffective" Water Schemes

Iran Ex-Minister Derides "Ineffective" Water Schemes Iran Ex-Minister Derides "Ineffective" Water Schemes

A former agriculture minister said large-scale water schemes, including plans to transfer water from the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf to the central Iran plains, are “illogical and ineffective”.

Speaking in a meeting at Isfahan Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture on Saturday, Isa Kalantari added that the only people that can help drought-hit regions are their inhabitants.

“These water schemes are illogical and cannot be executed … They’ll never be able to deliver,” he said.

Advocates of the schemes say the projects are essential to battling drought and sustaining industrial activities (most of which, such as steel and petrochemical production, are water-intensive).

Critics argue that the plans will only offer temporary solutions that are not worth their environmental and financial costs.

Energy officials apparently make up the bulk of the supporters, while a majority of the opponents are environmentalists, climatologists and activists.

Critics say there are more feasible and sustainable means of meeting a region’s water needs without harming water resources in the long run, such as overhauling farming policies and recycling water.

  Policy Reforms Necessary

The agriculture sector gobbles up more than 90% of Iran’s scarce water resources, while the average Iranian uses 250 liters of water per day. In metropolises such as Tehran and Isfahan, it can even go up to 350 liters per day—three times the global average

Kalantari, who is also the secretary-general of Farmers Association of Iran and senior advisor to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on water and agricultural affairs, said farmers and industrialists “must realize they can no longer decide for themselves how much water they can use”.

Pointing to declining precipitation in recent years, the former minister said the country’s annual rainfall a decade ago was 248 millimeters, but it has plummeted to under 200 milliliters.

“That’s a 20% decrease in rainfall, which combined with the 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in Iran’s average temperature in the same period translates to a 100-milliliter increase in evaporation,” he said.

Never one to mince words, Kalantari condemned the lack of measures in the country’s five-year economic development plans to reduce water demand.

“Evidently, officials involved in drawing up these plans have yet to believe the severity of the problem we’re facing,” he said.

“Sixty years ago, Iran’s per capita water was 7,000 liters, which has now dropped to 1,100 liters and it’s as low as 700 liters in metropolises such as Tehran and Isfahan.”

Water experts have repeatedly called for policy reforms and advanced farming practices to tackle Iran’s worsening water shortages that have taken the form of a major crisis in recent years.

Most observers and senior officials are on record saying that the root cause of the nationwide problem is mismanagement and waste, and not shortage of the precious resource.

There is a strong consensus that if water consumption patterns don’t change in the near future, many parts of the country will turn into barren desert while entire towns and villages will become totally empty of residents.Caption: