EghtesadOnline: Rewriting rules on how much water can or should be allowed to different sectors can help reduce use and underpin security for consumers and the environment in the coming decades, says the managing director for water and wastewater macro planning department at the Energy Ministry.
"A new water sharing plan should state how much water can be provided for households and also allow farmers and industry owners who require fairly large volumes of water to plan for the future," Sadiqeh Torabi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
This cannot be achieved unless an effective water management policy — political, social, economic and administrative plan of action that positively influences water use — is in place, Torabi said.
Basically, water management decides who gets what amount of water, when and how, and what are the priorities to water, related services and benefits, Financial Tribune reported.
"Water sector reform and the way water should be managed and allocated to different sectors is an obligation, not a matter of choice," she cautioned.
Needless to say, due to varying characteristics of water resources and socio-economic frameworks, management of this precious resource vary significantly from one country to another.
Referring to the worsening water shortages, she said, "Discovery of new water resources is apparently inconceivable. Thus, water use efficiency from what is available must be optimized."
Turning to alternatives, probably the most effective would be treating and recycling wastewater for use in agriculture and industries, she added.
According to the Energy Ministry news portal, as per a directive issued by the ministry in May, it is mandatory for all thermal power plants to use reclaimed wastewater (instead of potable water) for their cooling towers.
Regarding the drought-stricken central plateau, especially in Isfahan and Yazd, the situation has reached a critical level. The once-overflowing Zayandehroud has lost more than one million cubic meters of water in the last decade. Authorities have decided to cut the river's water flow, except for periodical releases, for irrigation.
Zayandehroud originates in the mountains of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province and flows eastward toward Isfahan before ending up in the famous Gavkhouni Wetland.
Experts say efficient water governance is a crucial concept through which countries can and should improve the sustainable development of water resources and services.
Access to water for many people across continents is indeed a matter of daily survival and can help to break the vicious circle of poverty. Improving water governance is therefore essential to alleviating global poverty.
Experts predict that Iran’s water scarcity will hit crisis level by 2025, when access to renewable water will be less than 1,000 cubic meters per capita, down from 2,000 cubic meters in 1950. Annual water consumption in the country of 80 million people is 100 billion cubic meters.
There have been perpetual warnings that if water consumption patterns do not change soon, many parts of the country will turn into barren desert and entire towns and villages will become uninhabitable.
Recent reports say the disturbing rural-to-urban migration has already stated as large numbers of rural folks are moving out due to the water crisis, drought and worsening economic conditions.
How societies choose to govern their water resources and services has a profound impact on people’s livelihood and the sustainability of water resources. It is a bitter truth that water scarcity has become one of the biggest challenges most nations are facing.
As demand for water rises above supply in many regions like Iran, efficient management of available water resources will be key to achieving water security, fairly allocating water supplies and resolving related disputes.
Iran is among the top 20 countries with unsustainable water consumption. Experts and environmentalists say if the present trends persist, almost all underground water will dry up within 30 years and the country will face absolute water scarcity.
According to Energy Ministry data, every Iranian uses an average of 220 liters of water per day, while per capita water consumption in metropolises like Tehran exceeds 300 liters. The global average is 150 liters.
Desertification, abundance of several thousand illegal water wells, inefficient farming practices, water-intensive industries in arid regions and the injudicious use in households are making a bad situation worse.