EghtesadOnline: Rapidly declining water resources has impelled the government to increase the number of plains from which water withdrawal is banned from 15 in 1968 to 405 now -- up 2,600%.
“The number is appalling as the banned plains account for 95% of the underground water reserves that are being depleted faster than presumed,” said Muhammad Ali Mostafavi, director of Water Resources Preservation Office at the Waster Resources Management Company, ILNA reported.
Close to 41 billion cubic meters of water is being extracted from authorized wells that must be cut to 27 bcm by 2021 coinciding with the last year of the Sixth Economic Development Plan.
"Water deficit from underground sources has reached 140 bcm and so no more licenses should be issued to dig wells," he said, noting that current extraction levels should be reduced by at least 14 bcm per annum, Financial Tribune reported.
Under current conditions, issuing new licenses for wells is harming national interest and this means disregarding the future generations' right to water, he warned.
Almost 320,000 illegal wells have been identified and are being sealed gradually. There are 487,000 water wells that have licenses.
Iran registered significant improvement in rainfall in March and April when precipitation in most provinces exceeded the average in 50 years. Nonetheless, dams are 69% full, down 20% compared to May.
“Water shortage must be taken seriously by everyone — it’s a national crisis,” Mostafavi said as a matter of fact.
Calling the lack of official attention to the crisis by officials and the general public as “worrying,” he said governments usually are loath to declaring a crisis. “So the repeated warnings about the worsening water shortage has been called a crisis should serve as a wake-up call.”
Mostafavi said no single organization can be blamed for the current crisis simply because multiple factors have a role.
“We are all at fault, so we all have to make a concerted effort to solve the problem.”
In addition to natural factors such as climate change, human influence including mismanagement, unorganized urbanization and population growth have long led to water demand outstripping supply in Iran, which is located in one of the world’s most water stressed regions.