EghtesadOnline: Extraction from renewable water resources in Khorasan Razavi Province has reached petrifying levels, the head of provincial Water Company said.
"At least 25% of what is being consumed now belongs to future generations," Mohammad Ala'ee was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Referring to measures to reverse the dangerous consumption and prohibitive trend, he said sealing illegal wells is a top priority. He did not provide any details.
Moreover, the process to installing smart meters on authorized water wells has been expedited so that water extraction can be monitored accurately and round-the-clock, according to Financial Tribune.
The water official said people in Iran’s most important religious province have yet not recognized the scale and scope of the water crisis. “It is the company's responsibility to spread awareness. If not, a bad situation will get worse.”
More than 30 million pilgrims from in and outside Iran visit Mashhad, the provincial capital and major shrine city, every year.
According to Ala'ee, Iran–Turkmenistan Friendship Dam over Hariroud supplies 70% of the drinking water in the province.
"Although precipitation in April increased the dam's level to 700 million cubic meters, it cannot guarantee stable water supply in the future," he warned.
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 population growth - coupled with industrialization and urbanization - has resulted in an increasing demand for water and will have serious consequences on the environment.
Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people. 3900 children die every day from water borne diseases. One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.
Conservationists and experts like Mohammad Hussein Papoli Yazdi, head of the Iranian Association of Geopolitics, have often stressed the reservoir of the dam is bound to shrink due to the construction of the Salma Dam (Afghan-India Friendship Dam) on the river upstream.
"Our country will have to face consequences of the global water crisis in the next 10 years unless it finds effective solutions and resorts to robust diplomacy," he was quoted as saying.
He added that although there are policy guidelines for domestic water resources, there is a visible lack of a clear and comprehensive strategy on cross-border water rights and responsibilities.
"In sum, we have not pursued vigorous water diplomacy at the regional and international level.”
Renewable water resources show an appalling 20% decline over five years, declining from 130 billion cubic meters in 2013 to 105 bcm now. This resource is defined as the average manual flow of rivers and recharge of aquifers generated from precipitation.
According to ISNA, [renewable] resources were close to 140 bcm in 1999 and after that came the rapidly descending order ever since. It fell to 135 bcm, 130 bcm and 105 bcm in 2007, 2013 and 2017 respectively.
Annual average renewable water resource is 114 bcm, of which 70 bcm is exploitable.
Iran's annual water consumption exceeds 100 bcm. Translation: the shocking water deficit will not reduce unless excessive withdrawal from aquifers in the agriculture sector ends for one and all.
Illegal water wells, which have been dug in tens of thousands, must be sealed without fear or favor.
Isa Kalantari, head of the Department of Environment believes water scarcity will hit crisis level by 2025, when available renewable water will be less than 1,000 cubic meters per capita, down from 2,000 cubic meters in 1950.