People, Environment

Ebtekar: Desalinating Caspian Water Injudicious

Ebtekar: Desalinating Caspian Water InjudiciousEbtekar: Desalinating Caspian Water Injudicious

Desalinating Caspian Sea to meet the water demands of the Central Iranian Plateau is not the best solution to Iran’s water shortage.

This was declared by Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of the Department of Environment, while speaking at a press conference in Semnan University on Thursday.

Ebtekar stressed that there are better, more feasible and scientifically-sound solutions to the problem, IRNA reported.

“The department is not against transferring water from the Caspian Sea. In fact, we encourage studies on the issue,” she said.

“However, we believe there are better and lasting solutions, such as the judicious use of water and better water management, with an eye toward protection of ecosystems.”

The DOE chief noted that transferring water from one region to another was the go-to solution in the past, but it usually did more harm than good.

The official conceded that most areas can combat the water scarcity by modifying their habits.

Ebtekar called for an end to excessive water extraction from groundwater sources and urged locals to stop digging illegal wells.

Efficient use of the precious resource and revamping water management policies have been called by water experts as the most likely solution to Iran’s looming water crisis.

  Water Import

Nevertheless, some have called for water to be imported from neighboring countries, such as Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

Isa Kalantari, a former agriculture minister, is a staunch opponent of the idea and has repeatedly warned against its feasibility.

“Tajikistan and Azerbaijan are both grappling with water shortage. Iran might be able to import a limited amount of water from Azerbaijan,” he told the Persian daily Forsat-e Emrooz in May, “but it will not solve anything.”

Elaborating on his stance against water import, Kalantari, who is an advisor to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on water affairs, claimed water shortage is not the main problem.

“The most pressing issue that needs to be addressed is mismanagement. Even if we end up importing water from the moon, we will again end up in this mess as long as we continue to manage water poorly.”

  Gov’t Initiatives

In another speech on Friday, Ebtekar pointed to climate change and its fallouts, such as declining precipitation and higher temperatures, and said the government has taken measures to minimize the impacts of global warming and help protect the environment.

“The initiatives aim to optimize energy consumption, reduce reliance on fossil fuel, curb air pollution and check the emission of greenhouse gases,” she said.

The official said an environmental bill has been prepared by the DOE and sent to the parliament for review, adding that the bill outlines measures to protect and preserve wetlands and soil.

  Parched Plains

Ebtekar said nearly 300 plains across Iran are facing severe water shortage, but said the government of President Hassan Rouhani has managed to control the situation.

She pointed to Semnan’s efforts to save Touran Wildlife Refuge in Shahroud as a successful program to preserve the country’s plains.

Covering 1.4 million hectares, the refuge is home to the largest population of the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah, as well as a number of other rare species.

Touran Wildlife Refuge was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1976.