EghtesadOnline: Deep water wells in Zanjan Province are dragging the region into trouble of the kind that the region may soon be unable to supply enough water to farmers.
Due to years of declining precipitation and mismanagement, farmers in Abhar County have resorted to groundwater reserves to till the soil.
Increasingly large amount of water is withdrawn from deep wells that are being dug deeper every year due to dwindling groundwater levels, the Energy Ministry’s news portal reported.
“Not long ago, the average depth of a water well in Abhar was 180 meters, now we need to dig at 380 meters to find water,” Financial Tribune quoted Yousuf Rezapour, the head of provincial water company as saying.
Overuse of groundwater has drained reserves and the levels of underground reservoirs have declined 31 meters during the last two decade, he warned.
According to local officials, some wells are 400 meters deep, while the average depth of water is between 50 to 60 meters worldwide in other countries.
Regular efforts are made to identify illegal wells, but apparently there are too many, he added.
In spite of repeated warnings, excessive withdrawal of water from aquifers continues in the inefficient agro sector to produce food that more often than not have little economic value. More than 90% of the water resources are used for unsustainable and wasteful farming.
“Wells should not have been dug in the first place. What is needed today is a comprehensive plan to efficiently manage the remaining water resources,” he said without elaboration, suggesting that smart meters can help address the problems in the long-term.
The mountainous Zanjan Province is surrounded by seven provinces, namely Qazvin, Gilan, Ardebil, East and West Azarbaijans, Kurdestan, and Hamedan.
It is less than a 4-hour drive from Tehran. Situated on the slopes of the Alborz Mountains, Zanjan has harsh winters. Its water-intensive farm products include tomato, apple, raisins, garlic and watermelon.