EghtesadOnline: Iran will face widespread water shortage sooner-than-expected if water price is not adjusted, Energy Minister Reza Ardekanian said on Friday.
“While the price of a 0.5-liter bottle of mineral water is 10,000 rials [22 cents], 1 cubic meter of running water is priced at only 5,000 rials [11 cents],” Ardekanian was quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official added that the unreasonably low prices cause consumers to pay no heed to the precious commodity and consume it imprudently as if it will never deplete.
Stressing that most of the country's water resources are used in agriculture sector, Ardekanian said that if the administration is unable to establish modern judicious consumption patterns, new water supply plans, which cost billions of dollars, will only delay the tragedy of water paucity for a few years, Financial Tribune reported.
"The Ministry of Agriculture banned rice cultivation in some provinces with water tension in the current water year (ending Sep. 22)," he said.
“However, we cannot pin hope on such measures to curtail water consumption.”
Ardekanian noted that currently, rice is still being cultivated in 170,000 hectares of water-stressed regions.
“One of the ways to institutionalize the reform of crop rotation, growing a series of dissimilar crops in the same area in alternate seasons in these areas will also be profitable,” he said.
Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari, chief executive of Tehran Regional Water Authority, told ISNA this week that the directive to raise water tariffs for consumers was ratified by Tehran City Council and approved by the Economy Council.
"Water prices for households consuming less than 30 cubic meters a month will rise by 7%, yet the tariffs for subscribers who exceed the limit will increase by 15%," he added.
Experts believe that low water prices have made people oblivious to the fact that they must consume water judiciously and help mitigate the effects of water shortage.
Average water consumption decreased to less than 200 liters per day per person last year. 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.