EghtesadOnline: Over 28 million people in Iran (about a third of the population) are living in water-stressed regions. Although this is still a large number causing serious concern, it has decreased by nearly 6.4 million compared to the past year due to good rainfall in the past months.
Heavy precipitation in the current water year (started September) raised the water level in several dams and as a result supply of potable water to many urban and rural areas improved compared to the recent past, the Energy Ministry news portal Paven reported. But all were not as fortunate.
Despite the better conditions, there are still 28.6 million people in 236 urban regions affected, to varying degrees, by water scarcity and deficit.
Residents of Isfahan, Bushehr, Khorasan Razavi, Sistan and Baluchestan, Fars, Kerman and Hormozgan provinces are facing difficulties accessing potable water because these provinces received less rainfall compared to other parts of the country. The provinces also lack enough water reservoirs, Financial Tribune reported.
Water stress occurs when demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity and quality.
Some experts and environmentalists reject the widely-held notion that chronic water shortages can be addressed only via higher precipitation, especially in countries that depend largely on rain-fed agriculture.
Iran is on the fast track to severe water scarcity. The semi-arid country faces an onslaught of threats to its water supply, including climate change, old and water-intensive farming practices, population growth, mass migration and mismanagement.
It is among the top 20 countries with high water consumption and if present trends persist, almost all underground water resources will dry up within the next 30 years.
Desertification, the abundance of illegal water wells, wasteful farming, water-intensive industries in arid regions and injudicious use of water by households together with the ever-increasing demand and unpredictable climate changes are making a bad situation worse.
According to Energy Ministry data, every Iranian uses an average of 220 liters of water per day. The global average is 150 liters.
Raising social awareness, implementing water resources development projects, curbing outflow of water from the country, wastewater treatment, increasing water productivity, reducing the negative balance of underground reservoirs and limiting water pollution are among measures crucial for improving the water conditions.
Increasing reservoir capacity, encouraging the private sector to invest in the water industry, improving hydropower infrastructure for water production and diversifying financial instruments in the water sector are other solutions, experts and climatologists say.
Water scarcity and pollution are persistent global problems. According to End Water Poverty, some 663 million people around the world have absolutely no reliable access to clean, safe water year-round.
While the world's population tripled in the 20th century, use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold.
Within the next 50 years the world population will reportedly increase by another 40% to 50%. This growth - coupled with industrialization and urbanization - will result in increase in demand for water and have serious consequences on relations among nations, especially those long struggling with water deficits.