Tehran Wastewater Project Stumbles

Tehran Wastewater Project Stumbles Tehran Wastewater Project Stumbles

Expansion of the wastewater network development project is one of the most important urban projects underway in Tehran since four decades, but the lack of funding for the major undertaking plus the fast development of urban areas have impeded completion.

“Nearly 10,000 km of underground pipes should be installed to cover the city’s entire wastewater system. So far 6,000 km of pipelines have been laid,” said Mohammad Salari, head of the Urban Planning and Architecture Commission of the Tehran City Council (TCC).  

“Constraints in funding, rapid growth of urban areas and narrow alleys in the older districts are among the main reasons that work has been delayed,” the Persian language newspaper ‘Sharq’ quoted him as saying.

The Tehran Water and Wastewater Company which is responsible for clean water supply as well as the hygienic disposal of sewage of all the urban districts, is the main contractor of the project.

The cash crunch, a major obstacle to the full operation of the wastewater project, prompted the TCC to pass a regulation in the last fiscal year that ended in March, giving the company the authority to collect the cost of laying the wastewater pipes from homeowners and businesses in easy monthly installments to fund the city-wide project.

“Accordingly, Tehranis should also pay for the project implementation, otherwise, the company has the right to disconnect municipal water supply to their homes.”

Criticizing the additional financial burden on the people, Fatemeh Molaei, environmental health expert, told the paper that municipal executive bodies should cooperate so that “people don’t have to bear the financial brunt.”

The Tehran Municipality receives huge amounts of money from the water company for issuance of drilling permits and it should foot the bill for the wastewater project. “The company should not demand additional money from the residents. The lack of TM cooperation is the main hurdle the project is facing.”  

Salari noted that timely development of the wastewater network would prevent contamination of drinking water sources through raw sewage permeating the surface and groundwater reserves. “Apart from improving the quality of water, the project will have many other benefits including conserving potable water by greater use of recycled wastewater for agriculture and industrial purposes.”

The pipes used in the project have a life span of 50 years, and the project should be commissioned soon; otherwise the older pipes will have to be replaced with new ones.

  Treatment Plants

Under the plan, 21 sewage treatment plants are to be constructed in different parts of capital to cover the needs of 11 million people (the estimated population of the capital by the year 2030). The wastewater flowing from the sewers to the treatment plants will be disinfected and used for different purposes.

So far, six treatment plants with a capacity to refine 8 to 10 cubic meters per second have been constructed in the southern part of the expanding metropolis, which receives sewage water from 3.1 million residents.

The company is supposed to use its budget for the current fiscal year to construct more treatment plants and generate income by selling wastewater from the plants.

Currently, the recycled water by the southern treatment plants is used for Varamin County’s agricultural farms.

Mohammad Mahdi Zare, urban planning and architectural expert, said although the project is beneficial for urban environmental health, people should not be forced to cough up money for its implementation, and private investments should be sought.

In Mehriz city in the central Yazd Province, the wastewater network has been constructed with the help of private sector investors. “Investors are allowed to use refined wastewater for agriculture or in the factories.”

Meanwhile, the responsibility to develop the wastewater network in District 22 (one of the newer districts) has been taken by the TM; however, according to the residents no measures have been taken so far to commission the project, which is expected to help supply treated water to the famous Chitgar Park. The refined water also can be used for filling the Chitgar artificial and recreational lake, also known as the Lake of Martyrs of the Persian Gulf, located on the park’s northern flank.