Iran’s water crisis

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, June 11, 2021—Iran’s exacerbating water crisis has turned into one of the greatest challenges of the country.

Currently, all six watersheds of the country are faced with drought, water shortage, or dehydration crises.

“Iran is disappearing and the water war is spreading from provinces to villages,” Isa Kalantari, the head of the Department of Environment, said on May 17, as reported by the official IRNA news agency.

“20 billion cubic meters of natural resources and groundwater are extracted annually, and water resources are looted. If this trend continues, in the next 20 years, there will be no trace of agriculture around the Zagros mountain range because the water resources have been destroyed,” Kalantari added.

In a meeting with experts on May 30, Kalantari warned, “The water war has started between the provinces of Isfahan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Yazd, Khuzestan and Lorestan, and this war is going from being interprovincial to becoming inter-village.”

Improper use of renewable water

According to the 1992 Rio agreement, countries must use only 40 percent of their renewable water resources. But in Iran, more than 100 percent of the renewable water capacity has been used for years.

According to government-linked experts, the east and south of the country will be completely deserted, and regime officials say 50 million people will have to migrate.

According to a June 2 report by the Aftabeyazd daily, “40 to 50 percent of the villages in Sistan and Baluchestan province are migrating due to drought and are becoming uninhabited, or land subsidence in Iran is 140 times more than the critical situation in the world. Increasing differences in various parts of the country and … due to water shortages are alarm bells that have been sounded but unfortunately not heard.”

In his May 17 remarks, Kalantari admitted that the regime is destroying Iran’s natural environment and said, “We had 500 billion cubic meters of fossil water resources, of which 300 billion cubic meters were salty and 200 billion cubic meters were sweet. We exhausted 200 billion cubic meters of it. We closed the path of surface water. We no longer have running water.” (source: IRNA news agency, May 17)

In the water resources management index, Iran is ranked 132nd among 133 countries, so that in terms of resource management index, all rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers and plains of the country are faced with the lack of optimal allocation of water and land resources.

According to Mostafa Fadaei Fard, a water researcher, “In Iran, 96 billion cubic meters of water is consumed annually, but the total renewable water resources of the country are only 90 billion cubic meters, and therefore we have put the water crisis behind and entered water bankruptcy.”

The water expert, whose remarks were published by the Etemad daily on May 16, added that 20 to 25 years ago, 2 million tons of wheat were purchased from Fars province, but in 2020, only 500,000 tons of wheat were purchased because the groundwater and karst have run out.

The root of the problem

A look at water consumption in Iran reveals that at least 70 percent of water is used for agriculture, 22 percent for industry and 8 percent for drinking and sanitation.

Because the regime has not invested in agricultural development, Iranian farms are still irrigated in an unsuitable and backward manner, resulting in the loss of more than 80 percent of water resources in the agriculture sector, and this results in 54-55 billion cubic meters of water going to waste every year.

Dams, wells, and factories with high water consumption

Another cause of the destruction of water resources is the irregular dams built by the government and its institutions, which have destroyed forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes.

The water of most of these dams is also transferred to military industries controlled by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and government institutions.

Before the 1979 revolution, there were only 30 dams in Iran. But now, according to official statistics, 1330 dams in the country are in various stages of operation, implementation, and study.

Irregular dams have dealt fatal blows to the country’s water resources and swallowed the country’s water resources and have only generated revenue for the Revolutionary Guards in the design, implementation and operation stages.

According to Isfahan Water and Sewerage Authority, the Mobarakeh Steel Factory, which is the largest steel foundry in Iran, consumes 27 million cubic meters of water and nearly 6 percent of the total water in Isfahan Province. This plant belongs to the Basij, the paramilitary arm of the IRGC.

There are other factories in Isfahan province such as steel, petrochemical, piping and similar industries with high water consumption.

Another case is the construction of a petrochemical plant in the city of Khomein, Central Iran, where there are no oil wells that need a petrochemical plant.

This is at a time when Khomein is on the edge of a desert and the people already have problems procuring drinking water. The petrochemicals plants, which consume a huge amount of water, make life even more difficult for the people of this region.

In 1978, there were only 36,000 wells in Iran. But in 2015, their number has grown to 794,000, an increase by a factor of 22. Meanwhile, the population of Iran has slightly more than doubled.

This uncontrolled extraction of groundwater has increased the salinity of water and soil, thereby endangering food security in the country.

The next risk is land subsidence, which has led to an increase in the risk of earthquakes. Among the 30 main watersheds of Iran, the Dayacheyeh Namak (Salt Lake) basin and then the western provinces of Iran have the highest rate of subsidence. In 2019, the plains of these regions have sunk by 18.9 centimeters.

At the national level, Iran’s groundwater reserves have decreased by 25.5 cubic kilometers per year, from 2002 to 2015, with a decrease of 1,752 percent in 14 years. This amount of groundwater extraction from the plains of the United States occurred between 1950 and 2007, over a period of 57 years.

Is there a solution to the water crisis?

If there is a popular government in Iran, the water crisis will undoubtedly be resolved, and the first and most accessible way to invest in the agriculture sector.

Mechanizing Iran’s agriculture with drip irrigation system and pressurized system will save a lot of water.

For example, in Persian Gulf countries, there is not even a seasonal river or a lake. The water of cities such as Dubai, which is located in a desert much drier than the deserts of Iran, is supplied by the Persian Gulf.

Therefore, it is possible to invest in the water sector and save the land of Iran from extinction and destruction.

But the regime’s priorities are to acquire atomic bombs, export terrorism and fundamentalism, and develop ballistic missiles.

There are thousands of villages that are currently supplied with drinking water by tankers and millions of Iranians are forced to leave their cities and villages and go to the slums or large cities due to lack of water, and the regime has not done nothing for them.

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