EghtesadOnline: In the past dams were built with the aim of ensuring irrigation, power generation and supplying potable water. But now the attitude towards mega-dams has changed significantly, managing director of Iran Water and Power Resources Development Company said.
"Due to drastic changes in the geographic pattern of precipitation, dams under construction are being completed largely to control floodwaters," ISNA quoted Behrouz Moradi as saying.
Dam construction plans will not stop and more mega structures are on the agenda in flood-prone areas like Lorestan Province, Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Those who claim dams are irrelevant and part of the problem may have a point (half the dams are empty), but were it not for dams in southern and northern regions, namely Khuzestan and Golestan provinces, the destructive impact of flooding last April on human life, property, roads, crops, livestock, and health conditions owing to waterborne diseases would have doubled, he noted.
Heavy rains in March and April, 2019 caused torrential floods in 24 provinces, especially in oil-rich Khuzestan.
“It is unfortunate that opponents of dam building underestimate their role in flood control.”
Flood control dams impound floodwaters and then either release them under control to the river below the dam or store or divert the water for other uses. For centuries, people have built dams to help control devastating floods.
Moradi said Iran is not supposed to receive heavy downpours this year (because of climate change). Nonetheless, dams help store as much water as possible whenever there is a deluge and at least minimize destruction.
Referring to Karoun-3 Dam in Khuzestan that was completed in 2001, he noted that the mega structure has not only helped control floodwaters but can easily store at least 3 billion cubic of water.
The Energy Ministry says plans are underway to complete 120 dams across the country of which 43 "must" be ready by 2022.
There are 172 dams in Iran which can hold 52 billion cubic meters of water and 96 are running out of water.
Despite what Moradi and other senior water managers claim, environmentalists have a different opinion.
They argue that efficient management can and will ensure floods inflict minimal damage, and more importantly, help restore drying wetlands and submerge the sources of dust storms in water.
“Dams are no longer used to control floods anywhere in the world,” Mohammad Darvish, a former head of Public Participation Office at the Department of Environment said.
Experts say maintaining vegetation, banning construction along rivers and managing watersheds are among the few ways to reduce loss from flooding.
Proper water management can turn floods, which usually inflict colossal damages, into a potential solution for the rampant dust storms that hit flood-hit regions frequently.
Those in charge in Tehran need to know that the rate at which dams are built in the world has plunged from almost 1,000 a year in the mid-1970s to about 250 in the early 2000s.
Moreover, the World Commission on Dams has said that dams at best are marginally viable in economic terms.