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EghtesadOnline: Low water prices have made people oblivious to the fact that they must consume water judiciously and help mitigate the effects of water shortages, says Hamidreza Janbaz, managing director of Tehran Water and Wastewater Company.

“A different policy is crucial to levy new tariffs on water consumers and narrow the gap between what consumers pay and the final cost of water treatment and supply,” Janbaz was quoted as saying by IRNA on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference on water security in Tehran.

However the official, who is also adviser to Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian, said the ministry has no plans to hike water tariffs in the current fiscal (started March 21), but a scheme could be introduced to send bigger water bills for unjudicios consumers. To this end, the ministry has sent a reform bill to the Majlis.

“Based on the proposal, households whose monthly water consumption exceeds 40 cubic meters (40,000 liters) per month will have to pay a surcharge.”

According to Janbaz, average water consumption has decreased to less than 200 liters per day per person. Nonetheless, as Iran is in one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, that is “still a considerable amount” and plans should be devised to further curb consumption, Financial Tribune reported.

“Providing people with potable water is the ministry’s top priority,” he added, noting that a major challenge that could hamper steady water supply in urban areas is the wave of migrations from small towns and villages to mega cities, which in turn results in urban sprawl, characterized by increased energy use and stressed infrastructure to meet rising water demand. The same is true for other utilities, namely gas, electricity, public transport…

Experts and officials say that despite the role and significance of expanding water  infrastructure, people play a key role in water management. According to official reports, almost 5,000 villages across the country are struggling with varying degrees of water paucity and thousands of villages have been abandoned due to the severe water crisis and years of draught.

Environmentalists and experts have for years appealed to the masses to cut water consumption and urged officials to undertake meaningful reforms. But as the worsening water situation and rising consumption demonstrates, their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

There is a strong consensus that should water consumption patterns not change in the near future, many parts of the country will turn into huge swathes of barren land and vast deserts.

Iran water Iran water shortage Iran Water Rates Hamidreza Janbaz