EghtesadOnline: In less than two decades water demand in drought-stricken provinces, especially Sistan-Baluchestan, will surpass 220 million cubic meters, and this is while less than 60 mcm of water will be available at that time, deputy for water and wastewater affairs at the Energy Ministry said.
"Transferring water from the Oman Sea to water- stressed regions like Sistan-Baluchestan Province can help alleviate the worsening water crisis to some extent in the long term," Qassem Taqizadeh Khamesi was quoted as saying by IRNA on Saturday.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Energy Ministry and private companies to divert as much as 400 mcm of water a year from the Oman Sea to Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces, he said without providing details.
From the total transferred water, Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces will receive 230 mcm, 110 mcm and 60 mcm respectively, according to Financial Tribune.
"Comprehensive studies have been conducted on the initiative and decisions have been finalized to implement the plan (despite environmental risks like exacerbating soil erosion and throwing marine ecosystems out of balance)," he said.
Surveys are being carried out to supply 17 coastal cities in the south with desalinated water.
Tapping into the sea to produce clean water is on the Energy Ministry agenda as it is seen as viable for sustainable supplies rather than depleting the gradually disappearing underground tables.
Water desalination plants now provide significant volumes of potable water in the northern and southern coastal regions.
In the past six years, 39 desalination units with a capacity of approximately 174,000 cubic meters per day (63.7 million cubic meters a year), have been operating near the southern coasts.
Moreover, sixty desalination plants with a capacity of over 242,000 cubic meters per day (88.4 mcm per year) are operating in different regions, The Energy Ministry news portal reported.
Construction of 25 desalinating plants is underway that upon completion by 2021 will add 300,000 cubic meters of water to daily output.
In line with the Energy Ministry goals to provide safe drinking water in the southern regions, the plants in Fars, Sistan and Baluchestan, Bushehr, Kerman, Khuzestan and Hormozgan provinces, will process saline water, remove the excess salt and other minerals.
To address the worsening water crisis, desalination is becoming a viable option in most countries to produce water from the sea. In the coastal regions, where salt water is in abundance, large and semi-large desalination plants are preferred.