The water resources behind the dams are the drinking water supply of 467 cities in Iran. However, as it has been reported by the Iranian opposition organization MEK Iran, the amount of water in the dams in 2021 has decreased by 60%, and the amount of volume in them has decreased by 34%, compared to the previous year. Water Crisis in Iran
The experts say that, if the total water consumption in a country is more than 40% of the total renewable water resources, the country faces a water shortage crisis.
According to reports from the MEK Iran, the province of Tehran alone consumes 25% and Tehran city 17% to 18% of Iran’s drinking water.
At the present moment, the water crisis in Tehran has deepened, compared to the previous years. It is expected Tehran dams to experience a deficit of 360 million cubic meters of water. Moreover, 304 cities in Iran are at risk of the water crisis and 101 cities are in the red status in terms of water supply. Water Crisis in Iran
From MEK Iran claim that the number of villages supplied with water by tanker has increased by 45% in just one year.
The northern provinces of Iran, are ranked higher in terms of rainfall, were also affected by the water crisis.
Iran is located in a hot, dry, and semi-desert region. This geographical area causes problems in the field of drinking water supply. However, from MEK Iran indicate that the water crisis is not merely due to the Iranian climate. There are other problems and reasons, such as water transmission network wear, inefficient and underdeveloped agriculture, and improper dam construction.
From MEK Iran indicate that in accordance with the national policy that promotes the country’s food self-sufficiency, the government subsidizes the considerable cost of pumping groundwater for agricultural uses. On the other hand, the country has invested heavily in the construction of dams, many of poor quality, to the detriment of other types of hydraulic infrastructures, such as irrigation systems, which could increase the efficiency of water storage and use. Water Crisis in Iran
The inadequate water management has been compounded by a harsh climate, which is getting worse and worse. The decrease in rainfall, the increase in temperatures, and the increasingly frequent extreme weather events will put greater pressure on water resources.
According to some predictions, in 2050 70% of the country’s population will be forced to leave their country due to the depletion of water resources. The harsh conditions in rural areas have already led to inland migration to urban centers, where unemployment is a widespread problem.
Regarding the political implications, the population is frustrated with the government’s management of water resources, leading to protests in the affected regions.
What are the possible solutions?
Iran may have to put aside its dream of being self-sufficient and expand food imports, just like Saudi Arabia did. However, this entails some difficulties. Iran’s economy, like Saudi Arabia’s, depends on oil exports, but unlike the Arab kingdom, international sanctions in Iran limit the entry of foreign currency, making imports very expensive.
Another possible option, suggested by the MEK Iranian their publications, is to increase desalination capacity, which is currently used to supply urban populations. However, this would not resolve the issue of excessive use of water for irrigation. Also, increasing desalination capacity would require allocating part of Iran’s natural gas to meet the energy needs of desalination plants, with the consequent cost.
The third option is studying the resources of the Caspian Sea. In this case, there are several issues that should be taken into account: the water is brackish, so it would have to undergo desalination treatment, and a pipeline would be necessary to transport it to other regions of the country. The impact on the water level of the Caspian Sea, which is currently in decline, should be also taken into account. Lastly, the countries that share its shores dispute the resources of this interior basin.
Finally, according to MEK Iranthe government could adopt policies to limit urban growth, modernize agricultural practices to achieve greater water use efficiency, and eliminate subsidies. Water Crisis in Iran
The country has few options available, all of which will be costly and difficult to implement. The economic aspect is only one of the consequences of any of the proposed solutions to the water crisis. Its effects make the country more vulnerable to new pressures in the future, from both, external and internal nature. The future of water resources, and its economic and political implications, are uncertain.