EghtesadOnline: The processing capacity of wastewater treatment plants in Iran has increased by more than a quarter in the last four years, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said on Friday.
"The combined treatment capacity of all sewage treatment plants amounted to 4.15 million cubic meters per day, but the capacity increased by 26% in four years," Chitchian said on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony for the second phase of a wastewater treatment plant in the city of Khoy, West Azarbaijan Province, ISNA reported.
The additional capacity comes from 42 wastewater treatment plants that became operational in the first term of Hassan Rouhani as president since mid-2013. Rouhani's second and last term officially commenced on Saturday after he took the oath of office in parliament.
"We added 1.1 million cubic meters per day to daily wastewater treatment capacity in four years. But that's still below the necessary standards," Financial Tribune quoted the minister as saying.
"The release of wastewater into the environment endangers the health of the society, as unprotected sewage contaminates water resources four times its amount."
The wastewater facility in Khoy has the capacity to treat 15,000 cubic meters of effluent daily using advanced sequential batch reactor technology. SBR allows for processing a wide range of influent volumes whereas the conventional system is based upon a fixed flow rate. It was built at a cost of 400 billion rials (around $10.8 million).
Local authorities say developing wastewater treatment plants in and around Tehran requires €300 million ($318 million), or nearly 30 times the cost of the wastewater treatment unit in Khoy.
Recycling wastewater has increasingly come under spotlight in recent years, as the country continues to grapple with perennial drought that has left large swathes of land barren.
Iran is located in one of the most water-stressed regions in the world. Average annual rainfall is around 250 millimeters per year, or almost one-fourth of average global precipitation.
The country's water security is also threatened by a self-destructive habit of overconsumption that seems to be implacable despite warnings and wakeup calls of officials and experts.
"Water consumption is increasing despite lower precipitation, dwindling resources and rising temperatures. The trend should be corrected," Chitchian said on Friday without proposing a concrete plan on how to upend the wasteful pattern.
Per capita water use in Iran is 204 liters per day, but for most European countries with significantly more rainfall and less population, that number is below 200 liters a day, according to a report by IRNA.
Massive amounts of water are wasted every year due to unsustainable farming practices and lack of technology to recycle effluent for farming.
According to statistics, Iran’s water recycling in agriculture is below 50%. Almost 90% of the scarce water resources are consumed by the agriculture sector.