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EghtesadOnline: So long as national interest is sacrificed at the altar of self-interest, water-related challenges cannot and will not be addressed, a deputy energy minister in the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa) said.

"Water management that is critical for sustainable development can be implemented only if all relevant sectors join hands to check the worsening water crisis," Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi was quoted as saying by the Persian-language economic newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad on Saturday.

Iran has been grappling for decades with water shortages and associated problems due to a variety of reasons one of which is that ministries and organizations namely Agricultural Jihad Organization, Department of Environment, Energy Ministry and the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade focus only on their own concerns, Khamesi rued. “Put simply, instead of coordinating their policies they insist on acting on their own.”

There is a visible lack of insight, harmony, cooperation and common vision among relevant organizations, which has resulted in diminishing water levels and a steep decline in water levels in a large number of plains, lagoons and underground water tables, Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.



Climate Change

Khamesi said the recent floods which hit most provinces were caused by climate change, so there is no guarantee that the country will experience torrential downpours next year.

Rains unseen in the country over six decades coincided with the annual Nouroz (Persian New Year) travelling season. The deluge killed at least 70 people and destroyed hundreds of towns and villages shattering the lives of thousands of people, mostly in the deprived areas. 

"Iran is located in an arid and semi-arid area and it is likely that we could again see drought," he noted, adding that workgroups organized by the Energy Ministry to tackle the water crisis should continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis.

A country that has been suffering from short- and long-term drought over the past 10 years cannot expect to get rid of the disaster anytime soon, he added.



High Extraction

Referring to high extraction from groundwater sources, said to be about 41 billion cubic meters a year, he said this volume should be cut to 27 bcm per year to avoid a major crisis.

"Of the total extraction, 90% goes to farming. Household and industries account for 7% and 3% respectively," Khamesi said.

According to the official and other experts, a key contributing factor to high water consumption is that “water is sold inexpensively to farmers.”

He went on to say that it costs the government 10,000 rials (7 cents) to deliver one cubic meter of water to farmers, whereas they hardly pay 100 rials (0.07 cent), which explains why they use the precious resource either to produce low value products like animal feedstock or water-intensive crops like watermelon. 

Iran's annual water consumption tops 100 billion cubic meters.

This was the bottom line of the official's cautionary notes: “Let's set aside illusions. Water is scarce and the population is rising. Ensuring food security is the least policymakers are expected to guarantee. Iran is not the only developing country suffering from water paucity, yet we still have problem in managing our limited resources. Informing the general public about realities can help them reconsider their life style."



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