Tackling Water Crisis in Iran via Conservation Campaign

Tackling Water Crisis in Iran via Conservation CampaignTackling Water Crisis in Iran via Conservation Campaign

The 15-year old water crisis across the country has compelled the government to think of ways to imbibe a new culture of water consumption and conservation.

With a population of over 8 million in the capital, and over 12 million in greater Tehran, the capital is seemingly the biggest water consumer.

Over the past few days several billboards have appeared on the megacity's highways to promote a culture of judicial use of water and other natural resources.

Administered by the Tehran Municipality, the billboards are part of an environmental awareness campaign, and the latest attempt to raise awareness on the unsustainable water consumption and the environmental costs of a water crisis.

The billboards seek to boost general knowledge on the issue, and display informative statements such as "About 10-20 liters of water is used in every minute of dish-washing." One huge billboard on Hemmat Highway reads: Water consumption in Tehran twice the global norm.

"Given the significance of water as a life-giving element, the municipality's campaign is essential," said Alireza Nozaripour, deputy head of Tehran Province Water and Wastewater Company, ISNA reported.

"Today more than ever, we are in need of promoting a culture of judicious use of water resources, and such messages could be an effective step to that end."

The official stressed that Iran's annual water consumption tops 97 billion cubic meters, while the country only has 88 bcu of renewable sources.

"This means our annual water consumption is 110%, whereas it should be closer to 40% of our available water per year," said Isa Kalantaria, an environmental advisor to First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, last month.

Hard Times

Severity of the water deficit has not yet dawned on the general public. Most government authorities apparently acknowledged the depth of the problem only recently. Negligence and carelessness now has the country facing hard times.

Nozaripour stressed the necessity of extending the campaign's duration for maximum impact, and said such projects must be undertaken all year long to have a lasting effect.

"Although all state bodies must play their part in alleviating the water crisis, the Energy Ministry is expected to shoulder more responsibility in implementing such campaigns," he noted.

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian had earlier tied the water crisis to low tariffs.

"Current (low) tariffs send the signal that people can consume water as much as they want without restraint," he said on the sidelines of Iran's First National Conference on Water Economics in Tehran in July.

Environmentalists, social scientists and the cross-section of academia and media have for years appealed to the masses to cut water consumption while calling on officials to undertake meaningful reforms, to no avail.

Rain water harvesting, judicious water use (especially in the agro sector that guzzles more than 90% of the country’s water), 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 water.

There is a strong consensus that if water consumption patterns do not change in the near future, many parts of the country will turn into barren desert while entire towns and villages will become uninhabitable.

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