People, Environment

Proposed Water Transfer Project Unjustifiable

Proposed Water Transfer Project UnjustifiableProposed Water Transfer Project Unjustifiable

The controversial project to transfer water from the Caspian Sea to the drought-hit Semnan Province in north central Iran via a 150-kilometer pipeline is both costly and destructive, according to an environmental expert.

Speaking to ISNA, Masoud Molana, a member of the Coordination Council of the Network of Environmental NGOs, said the implementation of the project “will not only destroy the northern forests, but also take a toll on farmlands” in Mazandaran Province.

“Furthermore, the wastewater produced as a result of desalinating the sea’s water present added problems: Irrespective of where the wastewater will end up, in the Caspian Sea or on the beach, it will certainly have an impact,” he said.

In a surprising revelation, he said the project will cost approximately 8 trillion rials ($231.8 million) and lead to the destruction of 94 hectares of the Caspian Hyrcanian Forests in Mazandaran. Precise details of the project are still undisclosed, so Molana’s citation of the figures is a new development.

“The preliminary budget of the project is 8 trillion rials, which should be spent on sustainable solutions to Semnan’s water woes,” he said, adding that it is unreasonable to try and solve one region’s environmental problem by inflicting damage on another.

Critics of the scheme say there are more feasible, better and lasting solutions to the Semnan’s water problem. Others maintain that with a 600,000 population the province hardly deserves such a huge and expensive project.

Rain water harvesting, judicious water use (especially in the agro sector), promoting modern  irrigation techniques, recycling wastewater, separating potable water from wastewater and implementation of watershed plans are among measures suggested by experts to help conserve and save water.

The consensus among experts is that gross mismanagement, more than any other factor, is at the root of the problem. Rapid development and haphazard expansion of infrastructure with minimal regard for their long-term impact have created irreversible harm.

“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 the same mess as long as we continue to poorly manage water,” says Isa Kalantari, a former agriculture minister and senior advisor to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on water affairs.