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June 2018, No. 87


Special Report

17 Million People Exposed to
“Water Stress”


“If the water required is not equal to the water available in a region, water stress will occur and, water scarcity at any level will cause more water stress.”


Dr. Reza Ardakanian, Minister of Energy

According to estimates, in the summer of the current calendar year (1397), some 334 Iranian cities will be exposed to water stress, out of which 107 are in the red state. Isfahan, Kerman, Fars, Khorasan-Razavi and Sistan and Baluchestan provinces are expected to face a more severe crisis.

Meanwhile, Dr. Reza Ardakanian, Minister of Energy, says about 300 cities in the country, with a population of about 17 million, face water stress.

He said there was a significant decrease in rainfall in some parts of the country. “Although in a province like Kermanshah, precipitation decrease was a few percent compared to last year, but in some provinces such as Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormuzgan and ... there was 75 to 80 percent drop in precipitation compared to last year.

“On the other hand, we are faced with climate change, with about two degrees of temperature rising from the past 50 years; even if there is appropriate rainfall, this temperature rise increases evaporation,” he said.

Ardakanian said population increase and rising water consumption is another cause of water scarcity crisis.

He said all the possible ways to address the issue of water and supply of drinking water in cities have been reviewed by the government which pays special attention to the issue.

The minister called  the people’s cooperation imperative in order to leave behind the water scarcity crisis and emphasized: “With the management of water consumption by the people, we hope to have a good reserve in our dams for the remainder of the summer and will be able to leave behind this summer too.”

Ardakanian emphasized the need for a revision in water consumption practices, saying: “Particularly in the agriculture sector, we should try to get more dry products with less water.”

He also pointed to the state of water stress in the cities: “If the water required is not equal to the water available in a region, water stress will occur and, water scarcity at any level will cause more water stress.”

According to the Ministry of Energy, 50 percent of the urban population will be in the red state, 19 percent in the orange state, and 30 percent in the yellow state of tension in the summer of 1397. The concentration of the population with the highest water stress will be in the Central Plateau with a population of 16.6 million people.

On the other hand, precipitation in the Central Plateau has declined by 50% compared to last year, with a population of seven million and 118 cities exposed to water stress in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea basin.

Statistics also indicate that the worst situation occurs is in the Central Plateau basin, after which the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea deal with serious challenges.

Along with this decrease in rainfall, we have witnessed a decline of 151 billion cubic meters of overland flow in the country, which is unprecedented in the past 50 years. According to base studies conducted by the Water & Sewage Company this year we will experience the worst year in the water resources sector. 

Water under the Hammer!

Undoubtedly, raising water prices is one of the most widely considered ways to reduce consumption, but in Iran, water prices are not increased alongside economically stronger European countries.

The price of water consumed in Iran is at its lowest level among most European and American countries so that countries such as Norway, Germany, France, Britain and even our neighbors charge subscribers several times more than Iran.

Currently, in Norway, the price of water is 192,270 rials (per cubic meter), in Germany it is 113,100 rials, in the United Kingdom it is 90,480 rials, and in France it is 71,630 rials, but in Iran, which has been struggling with drought crisis for several years it is only 4,147 rials according to Water & Sewage Company.

In this regard, Afshin Rahimzadeh, deputy director of engineering and development at Water & Sewage Company in Tehran, said: “Now if the water is not set at its real price and customers do not pay for the real price it certainly will not be possible to cope with the water crisis.”

He said that the difference between the cost of water and what is received from the subscribers is very high, noting that as long as we fail to manage available resources in the water sector, water companies will not be able to supply sustainable water.

 

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  June 2018
No. 87