What is the solution? Water imports or efficient management?

An Iranian news website has quoted environment experts as blaming mismanagement for water shortages in Iran.

The Iranian energy minister has recently said that Bandar Abbas, Bushehr and Kerman are facing acute drinking water shortages. Hamid Chitchian has also said that his ministry is contemplating a plan to import water from other countries and has opened talks with certain neighboring countries to that end.

Fararu.com on September 1 published a report on water scarcity in Iran and its possible solutions, saying that government officials have raised the issue of water import as a solution to the shortage of water in the country. The following is the translation of part of that report which includes Fararu’s interview with experts in this field:

The energy minister in May said that Iran was likely to bring in water from three neighboring countries, but the minister of agriculture frowned upon his comment. Mahmoud Hojjati said that unauthorized wells should be spotted, adding that officials and water users should cooperate to meet water demands in the country.

Despite the agriculture minister’s opposition, the country’s Fifth Development Plan has also identified imports of water [as a solution to the water crisis], saying that under Article 142 of the Fifth Development Plan the government can take measures to bring in water from other countries.

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Should Iran import water or not?

At this juncture, is water import the best option for officials to tackle water shortages in Iran? Environment experts hold different views.

Esmail Kahrom, an advisor to the director of the Environment Protection Organization, has said that importing water would be possible only for drinking purposes, adding imports of water for agriculture purposes would be futile.

Kahrom, who is also an environmental activist and an ecologist, has further said that water imports will definitely raise water prices. […] The country needs piping and other facilities to transfer the imported water to the agriculture sector and this will trigger a drastic rise in agricultural products, which in turn will create serious problems in the country. He said that importing water for agricultural purposes is far from rational.

[…]

No need for water imports

An environmental activist has said that Iran has no water scarcity, blaming the country’s drought and the existing serious water shortages on management of resources in the country.

Hossein Rafi further said that Iran imported water to fill the reservoir of the [Iran–Turkmenistan] Friendship Dam [Doosti Reservoir Dam on the Hariroud River] in the northeast a while ago, adding it was not a good experience and we should learn a lesson from such that experience.

If water imports result in Iran’s dependence on water purchase, more problems will be created for the country, among them security issues, he said, adding that the exporting country is likely to halt its water exports to Iran sometime in the future.

Rafi also said that Iran does not have water scarcity problems, adding what the country lacks is proper water management, not water reserves. “For years, the country’s water management has been plagued by problems. We build a dam, but 35 percent of its water is wasted. So do we really need to import water from abroad? If we stop such a trend, there will be no need for importing water”.

He went on to say that it is also an issue at an international level. “For instance, Afghanistan lets water flow into Hamoon [Lagoon], but the water is left unattended thanks to mismanagement. Part of the water evaporates and the rest is used for other purposes. Before anything else, we need to correct water management techniques in this country. As long as Iran’s water management is beset by challenges, water imports would do little to solve the country’s problems,” he added.

 

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