Water Management Demands New Strategy

Water Management Demands New StrategyWater Management Demands New Strategy

Passing two pieces of legislation on water in the seventh and eighth parliaments (2004-2012) has resulted in a colossal damage to the underground water tables and almost wiped it out, posing a real threat to water security, a water official said Sunday.

Chairman of the National Assembly of Agricultural Associations Masoud Assadi said water resources in agro sector are in a “critical situation,” and one of the two said laws “stipulates cutting payment of supervision fees for water drawn from wells for agricultural needs and the other addressed the issue of unlicensed wells situated in prohibited areas. Due to lack of supervision the laws eventually created conditions wherein water was overdrawn across the restricted plains resulting in critical pressure on the groundwater resources,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Water resources in some regions are now almost fully depleted and one of the outcomes is land subsidence, he noted. According to Assadi “the water crisis of today is not necessarily a result of drought and climate change, but also a product of inefficient policies and mismanagement in several organizations.” The official did not name names. In fact the drought and serious water shortages Iran is grappling with today is rooted in the two abovementioned legislations which indeed were supposed to serve the key agriculture sector “but ended up imposing losses on our natural resources.”

In crafting and passing important legislation a wise and forward-looking attitude should rule, he stressed, complaining that the laws of the past “consumed all the national resources which were meant for future generations.”

  Consigned to Oblivion!

Asadi also singled out what he said was “mismanagement in the energy ministry with respect to lack of oversight and effective control of water allocation in agriculture.” When the law allowing free water for agricultural purposes came into effect, the ministry of energy literally stopped supervising the water drawn from the wells, and this clearly contradicted policies set to help preserve natural resources. The global standard for drawing water from underground resources is 40% a year while in Iran the figure is a whopping and unbelievable 80 percent. The over exploitation of groundwater will, in the not too distant future, lead to total destruction of agriculture, increase land subsidence in the plains, empty rural areas leading to urban migration, and last but not the least endanger food security, the senior agriculturist warned.

In recent months the Iranian media has been inundated with warnings and appeals realted to water scarcity across the country. Senior officials of state and government have publicly discussed the serious threat of water security and the imperative need to consume judiciously.  One important area mentioned by almost all those in charge is the crucial agricultural sector that now consumes 90 percent of the total water resources of the country and that too very inefficiently. Official figures state that of this huge amount consumed by farmers close to “70 percent is wasted.” Experts have routinely warned that such water consumption patterns are simply unsustainable and effective measures should be taken at damage control before more harm is done to the national economy in general and the fast depleting water tables in particular.