EghtesadOnline: Water-intensive lifestyle, lack of long-term plans to efficiently use the limited water resources, inadequate investment to develop water infrastructure and sacrificing national interest at the altar of personal gain are among visible reasons why pleas, plans and proposals to use less water across all sectors have not produced the desired results.
Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian made the statement on the sidelines of the first convention on "Water Scarcity Adaptation" in Tehran on Monday, ILNA reported.
He asserted that adapting and adjusting to water scarcity is a key government strategy, assuring that Iran can prevent disasters related to water paucity by mobilizing the major players that can help in accomplishing the declared national objective: using water sustainably.
At the individual level, a change in attitude toward water use can and should make a big difference, according to Financial Tribune.
"So long as the people are not convinced that adapting to water scarcity can help contribute to economic prosperity (in the long term) and protect the environment, the culture of judicious water consumption cannot be institutionalized. Thus, efforts to encourage and persuade people to consume wisely will be (has been) in vain," he noted.
It is indeed regrettable that “wasteful and imprudent consumption” has become an indispensable part of people's life, he complained.
The minister blamed what he called misguided economic policies (low water tariffs) over the past four decades, leading to the wrong assumption that the country is rich in water resources.
He noted that political interference in policymaking, planning and managing water resources has had an adverse effect on the supply and demand mechanism. He did not elaborate.
Over the years the local media has reported at irregular intervals that senior state and government officials and their minions own large tracts of farmlands with huge economic benefits because, among other things, of the low water and electricity tariffs.
The minister did not name names but it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that he was referring to the people in high places and other vested interests.
Asked about workable programs to implement water scarcity policies, Ardakanian said correcting past policies, raising people's awareness, and more importantly, adopting approaches that can protect the interests of major consumers (farmers, private firms and state companies) have now emerged as a government priority.
"There is no denying the fact that living with water deficit is to the detriment of those who have long benefited from the irresponsible use of water."
So long as officials themselves do not practice what they preach and walk the talk, people will not be willing to change their consumption patterns, he warned.
The Water Scarcity Adaptation convention seeks to identify and introduce successful development plans to reduce water consumption in urban and suburban areas plus across all major economic sectors.
Iran’s water crisis is entering a new phase wherein its impact is becoming palpable in the daily lives of millions of people.
Average annual water consumption in Iran is estimated at 96 billion cubic meters -- a figure that is 8% higher than Iran’s total renewable water resources (89 bcm) or about 80% higher than the scarcity threshold level of (about 53 bcm).
While the world's population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold.
Within the next fifty years the world population will increase by another 40 to 50%. This growth - coupled with industrialization and urbanization - will result in increase in demand for water and will have serious consequences on relations among nations, especially those long struggling with water deficits.