People, Environment

Iran Reeling From Water Shortage

Iran Reeling From Water ShortageIran Reeling From Water Shortage

The dismal state of Iran’s water bodies leave only one bleak conclusion to be drawn: The country is heading for an unprecedented water crisis.

Nearly 100 wetlands and lakes are suffering from water shortage and seem destined for desiccation, which can only be disastrous for Iran, according to Isa Kalantari, who heads the Urmia Lake Restoration Committee.

“Mismanagement and ineffective water policies are the main reasons for the problem,” he said, “and the gravity of the situation seems lost on many officials.”

Kalantari, a former agriculture minister, said, on average, the country uses 90% of its renewable water resources, while the global average is 40%. “It even exceeds 130% in regions such as northeastern Iran.”

Despite Iran’s limited water resources, 55 billion cubic meters are drawn annually from groundwater resources. As a result, only 33 billion cubic meters of water are replenished annually in recent years, down from 45 billion cubic meters, IRNA reported.

“Once we reach the point of no return, the entire country will suffer,” said Kalantari, who is an advisor to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on water affairs. He believes the amount of water drawn from groundwater sources needs to drop to 26.5 billion cubic meters per year to avoid a catastrophe.

  Dire Consequences

Speaking about Lake Urmia, Kalantari said replenishing and saving water in the lake has proven difficult, “but we cannot stop trying because the consequences of the lake’s desiccation are dire.”

If the lake dries up, it will affect all life in a 100-kilometer radius, forcing residents of metropolises such as Tabriz and Urmia to evacuate, he said.

Kalantari stressed that saving the lake is a government priority and there has not been a lack of funding. “In the past six months, measures have been taken to revive the lake and efforts made to raise public awareness.”

The water expert called for an overhaul of water regulations and policies and emphasized the need to reevaluate outdated and wasteful farming practices, which gobble 90% of Iran’s water, with a mere 35% efficiency which pales in comparison to the 70% in the developed world

According to data from the Ministry of Energy, the average Iranian uses 250 liters of water per day, while daily consumption in metropolises such as Tehran may exceed 400 liters per person. That means Iran’s water usage is twice the world standard.