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Expert Criticizes Indirect Water Export
People, Environment

Expert Criticizes Indirect Water Export

Given Iran’s severe water scarcity and looming crisis, exporting water is far from rational, according to the director of Iranian Wetlands Conservation Project.
Speaking at the Wetlands Management Conference in Shiraz, Fars Province, Mohsen Soleimani Rouzbahani said, “Nevertheless, water is being indirectly exported.”
He explained that Iran exports 800,000 tons of watermelon every year.
“To grow one kilogram of watermelon, 250 liters of water are needed. That means we use approximately 1 billion cubic meters of water to grow enough watermelons to export. We are indirectly exporting water,” he said.
Rouzbahani said Iran’s revenue from watermelon exports does not even compensate the amount of water used to grow the fruit.
“Iran earns 20 rials ($0.006) per kilo of watermelon, which is meager,” he said.
The expert criticized the method used to measure the volume of agricultural production, adding that land and not water is taken into account.
“Land availability is not the problem, water shortage is,” he said.
Rouzbahani pointed to recent disputes in central Iran over water and said unless the threat of water crisis is taken seriously, the problem will lead to conflicts.
Years of mismanagement and wasteful farming practices have taken a toll on Iran’s groundwater resources. Ninety-percent of Iran’s water are used in the agricultural sector, 70% of which are wasted due to outdated irrigation methods.
Experts say the rate of withdrawal from groundwater resources outstrips their recharge rate, meaning Iranians are tapping into waters that took millions of years to accumulate.
Speaking on the benefits of reviving wetlands, Rouzbahani said a majority of locals earn their living directly from wetlands like Shadegan in Khuzestan (100,000 people), Chaghakhor in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari (150,000 people) and Hamoun in Sistan-Balouchestan.
“Every year, 300,000 people visit Zarivar Lake in Kurdestan, which indirectly creates at least 3,000 jobs in the area,” he added.
Rouzbahani said reviving and preserving the Hamouns is a matter of national security, as 70,000 jobs will be lost if the wetland dries up, which can displace thousands.

 

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