EghtesadOnline: Cloud seeding initiatives, which are primarily aimed at increasing rainfall, cannot help resolve the deepening water crisis of the country.
Abbas Soroush, a deputy for water affairs at the Energy Ministry, made the statement on Wednesday, ISNA reported.
According to the official, although domestic experts have been conducting research on the method for 20 years, it cannot play a major role in easing the acute water paucity.
"Improving the technique will be on the ministry's agenda, yet national policies to secure water supplies cannot be based on such technology," he said, adding that even developed states cannot pin hope on the method to overcome their water scarcity problems, Financial Tribune reported.
The official noted that the equipment for cloud seeding operations are manufactured by domestic firms, but the technique can at most meet 10% of a country's water supply needs if the much-needed funds are allocated.
Cloud seeding, a form of weather modification, is a way of attempting to change the amount or type of precipitation by dispersing substances into the air, which serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, and alter the cloud's microphysical processes.
Iran, a largely semi-arid region, suffers from drought. Although different strategies have been employed to tackle the country’s declining rainfall and the consequent drought, little has been gained, compelling authorities to resort to the “last solution”.
According to the official, cloud seeding projects have been practiced in Iran since 2008, mainly targeting 10 provinces, namely Yazd, Isfahan, Fars, West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Khuzestan, South Khorasan and Kermanshah.
A German company signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's National Cloud Seeding Research Center last year, based on which the German company is to share cloud seeding technology, particularly for enhancing precipitation and hail suppression.
Referring to other alternatives to help alleviate the situation in water-stressed regions, he noted that the first priority to provide potable water is to tap into underground supplies.
However, in areas where water tables have been severely depleted, the government is obliged to undertake water transfer projects.
"Water transfer plans are very costly, because of which the private sector should be provided with financial incentives to play a bigger role in such ventures," he said, adding that the private sector should be authorized to sell potable water to the public upon developing such initiatives.
Drying Up Resources
Isa Kalantari, the head of the Department of Environment, told ILNA that the country's water resources will dry up in less than 40 years.
"Average precipitation has decreased by 25% compared to that of last year's," he said, adding that it is regrettable that the less it rains, the more injudiciously people consume water in the country as if they have not felt “the depth of the tragedy" yet.
Comparing water and oil, he noted that unlike oil that is abundant and its supply outweighs demand, water is a scarce commodity that is being used imprudently and our demand is much higher than the existing resources.
Some 37 million Iranians are living in water-stressed regions, the Geological Survey & Mineral Explorations of Iran reported.
Kalantari believes that the severity of water shortage in Iran has not yet dawned on the general public and even government authorities had not acknowledged the depth of the problem until only recently.
Negligence and carelessness have made the country face hard times.
According to the official, renewable water resources, which have decreased to 101 billion cubic meters, cannot meet the current demand any longer, and if this consumption trend continues, almost 70% of the population, or 50 million people, will have to “emigrate from Iran to survive”.