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EghtesadOnline: Using water more efficiently demands a paradigm shift and an ethical revolution in addition to technical solutions, managing director of Tehran Regional Water Company said.

Truth be told “water has been viewed by commercial operators and industries as an abundant resource and a low cost commodity. Now that this finite resource is depleting rapidly and water shortages are felt in most parts of the country, this view must change,” the Energy Ministry quoted Seyed Hassan Razavi as saying.

There are many ways in which cultural and ethical change can be achieved, one of which is educating schoolchildren that has largely been ignored in Iran over the past four decades, Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

“Our ancestors dealt with water crisis wisely and by using traditional methods of water harvesting. However, nothing has been done to transfer the experience to the new generations.”

For centuries, Iranians in dry and desert areas have overcome challenges of water scarcity through traditional methods, one of which was (and still is) the Qanat. 

Qanat is the generic term for an ancient environmentally-sustainable water harvesting and conveyance technique believed to have originated in Persia in the early first millennium B.C.

The senior official went on to say that “without including water-related concepts in school syllabus, the culture of indifference toward the precious resource like water will not change.”

Creating a culture in which water is considered a valuable demands long-term interaction between the Ministry of Education and the Energy Ministry, --- something that has been nonexistent over the past 40 years.

“It is indeed regrettable that we hardly think of forward-looking policies and do so only when we approach a point of no return.”

Bayat concurred that cultures do not change overnight, nor can the problem (overconsumption and waste) be tackled in the near future. “Cooperation among relevant organizations (to conserve water) should have begun long ago.”

Prominent research institutions say roughly half the world's projected 9.7 billion people will live in water-stressed regions by 2050.

The World Resources Institute has a list it calls ‘Extremely High Baseline Water Stress” in which 17 countries are named. In this ranking of the most water stressed countries Iran is in the top four after Qatar, Israel and Lebanon. 

Iran is largely an arid and water-scarce country. Annual renewable water resources in the country is 1,600 cubic meters (nearly one fifth of the international average of 7,600 cubic meters).

Time is running out for policy and decision makers in Tehran who have visibly failed to address the worsening water shortages that threaten economic development. 

Those in charge know what is coming. But what they must do remains unclear, at least for now. 

 

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