People, Environment

Surface Water Down 30%

Surface Water Down 30%Surface Water Down 30%

Due to declining precipitation in recent years, Iran’s surface water has decreased by an alarming 30%, exacerbating the 17-year struggle with drought.

“Water shortage must be taken seriously by everyone — it’s a national crisis,” said Seyyed Muhammad Ali Mostafavi, director of the Water Resources Preservation Office at the Waster Resources Management Company, according to the Persian news website

Labeling the lack of attention to the crisis by officials and the general public as “worrying,” he said governments usually are loath to declaring a crisis, “so the fact that time and again water shortage has been called a crisis should serve as a wake-up call.”

Mostafavi said no single entity can be blamed for the current crisis simply because multiple factors played a role.

“We’re all at fault, so we all have to make an effort to solve the problem.”

In addition to natural factors such as climate change, human influence including gross mismanagement, unrestrained urbanization and population growth have led to water demand outstripping supply in Iran, which is located in one of the world’s most water stressed regions.

Household water consumption is three times that of the global average, while water use in the agriculture sector is more than twice the world standard.

The agriculture sector gobbles up more than 90% of the country’s water resources, thanks to outdated irrigation methods and obsolete farming practice, while the average Iranian uses 250 liters of water per day.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.

Some have suggested importing water and tapping into the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf to meet the growing water demand. However, experts such as former agriculture minister Isa Kalantari vehemently oppose such ideas on the grounds that poor water management is the root cause of the crisis not lack of water.

The Energy Ministry recently announced that it will cut off water supply to heavy consumers and will impose hefty fines to have their supply reconnected. Some argue that the measure is a good start, but to ensure its results will last, public awareness must be raised and water policies reviewed. They say those with unreasonably high water consumption tend to be affluent, so paying fines might not be the proper disincentive.