EghtesadOnline: Based on the March 2020-21 budget bill, close to $160 million will be allocated to dam construction in the next Iranian year.
This the amount, five times bigger than the Department of Environment's budget, will be spent on completing projects and building new mega structures, ILNA reported.
So far so good. But what keeps environmentalists and water experts wondering are two questions: Why do officials insist on building more dams when they know there is no water to store, ILNA reported.
Many say why not invest money in water recycling and effective measures to prevent seepage and leakage in pipelines that supply water from dams to water treatment plants?
According to Energy Ministry data, plans are underway to complete 120 dams across the country, of which 43 "should" be ready by 2022. Of the 172 structures almost half are either running out of water or half empty, Financial Tribune reported.
Dams in Iran can hold a maximum of 50 billion cubic meters of water and when the ongoing projects are completed, storage capacity will exceed 80 bcm.
But this is far beyond the capacity of rivers and the precipitation that have been of descending order in the past ten years (except for some mountainous regions in the west).
Mohammad Darvish, an environmental expert and a researcher at the Research Institute for Forests and Rangelands, says no water will be collected behind the dams now under construction because surface water sources are depleting gradually and rainfall has dwindled to a large extent.
Aging Water Network
Darvish is of the opinion that the funds ($160 million) should be spent on higher priorities, namely building wastewater plants to help reuse wastewater and rehabilitate aging water networks in cities and small towns through which a large volume (30%) of drinking water is lost due to seepage and rusted pipelines.
Referring to the construction of rubber dams in Gilan and Mazandaran provinces, he said building such structures in the north is a wrong policy.
“Not only do they seriously impact the hydrologic systems, the entire cycle of water movement, the dams lead to deforestation and destruction of pastures, especially in the Hyrcanian forests,” he said.
The forests cover five provinces, stretching east to west along the southern border of the Caspian Sea, covering the provinces of North Khorasan, Golestan, Mazandaran, Gilan and Ardabil.
The water problem in the north is not water shortage, it is the large amounts of water wasted due to seepage, the solution to which is not building dams, he stressed.
An estimated 700 million cubic meters of water is wasted annually at a time when an increasing number of environmentalists and economic experts are struggling to find ways to curb consumption and waste.
A World Bank study puts the global estimate of physical water loss at 32 billion cubic meters a year, half of which is in the developing countries. If water loss in developing countries is halved, the saved water would be enough for 90 million people, the global lender says.