People, Environment

Oil Ministry Upholding Hoor al-Azim Water Rights

Oil Ministry Upholding Hoor al-Azim Water RightsOil Ministry Upholding Hoor al-Azim Water Rights

Contrary to rumors, the Oil Ministry has imposed no restrictions on the release of water into Hoor al-Azim Wetland in Khuzestan Province in recent months, said the head of the provincial office of the Department of Environment.

Ahmadreza Lahijanzadeh added that the DOE will take action, should the ministry fail to continue upholding the wetland's water rights, IRNA reported.

Based on agreements, the wetland's water right has been determined at 1.4 to 1.6 billion cubic meters annually.

Over the past water year (Sept. 2015-16) a total of 1.1 bcm was released into the wetland from Karkheh River and by May 2016 covered around 63% of the wetland's area.   

According to Lahijanzadeh, the DOE's attempts to direct water into the wetland began in autumn 2013—only three months after President Hassan Rouhani's government came to power—when five reservoirs were reopened to allow water to flow into the wetland.

The reservoirs had been closed by the previous administration for oil exploration, leading to the total desiccation of a significant portion of Hoor al-Azim.

"This year, we intend to initiate plans from November to ensure that the wetland is at least 63% submerged," said the official.

Lahijanzadeh, however, said the process faced a challenge in August when massive amounts of rice were planted in the Azadegan Plain and large volumes of water were illegally pumped from the wetland to irrigate the farms.

The reduction of the wetland's water level led to the death of fish and other marine life, but the DOE stepped in.

"Immediately after the discovery, 50 cm per second were added to the regular inflow to make up for the shortage to some extent," he said.

Lahijanzadeh stressed that to uphold Hoor al-Azim's water rights, farming methods must be managed and illegal water withdrawal must be controlled by the ministries of oil and agriculture.


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