EghtesadOnline: The cost of managing watershed projects is much lower than the cost and damages inflicted by floods due to ignoring and delaying such projects, says a water expert at the Water, Environment and Energy Innovation and Technology Center in Tehran.
“Spending on watershed programs is an investment that can help prevent flood damage,” Mehr News Agency quoted Mohammad Amin Moradi as saying.
Over-extraction from renewable and underground water resources in Iran has emerged as a major concern, and due to mismanagement the country has been dealing with water problems for years, Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Iran is located in an arid and semi-arid region. With less than 250 millimeters of rainfall per year, it is among countries with low precipitation. The average global rainfall is about 1,000 mm per annum, the expert noted.
The prolonged dry spell — exacerbated by climate change — has taken a toll on Iran’s groundwater levels to the extent that even if precipitation returns to normal, it will only possibly meet actual water demand and not help restore underground reserves.
In other words, normal rainfall cannot and will not replenish the depleting groundwater reserves.
There has been good rainfall in some provinces this year compared to the long-term average that led to flooding in some regions, the last of which was in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Moradi said.
“Rainwater harvesting can help meet water demand to a considerable extent and turn the floodwater threats into opportunity. This is where the role and significance of watershed management comes in.”
A watershed is an area of land that drains rainwater or snow into a location such as a stream, lake or wetland. These water bodies supply drinking water, water for farming and industries, and provide habitat to plants and animals.
Regrettably indeed, various forms of pollution, including runoff and erosion, can interfere with the health of watersheds. As rainwater or melted snow runs downhill in the watershed, it also collects and transports sediment and other materials and deposits them into the receiving water body. Therefore, it is important to protect the quality of watersheds.
Watershed management is a term used to describe the process of implementing land use practices and water management practices to protect and improve the quality of the water and other natural resources within a watershed.
Watershed management projects aim to sustain and enhance functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within the watershed boundary.
“Although some projects have been carried out to address water issues, lack of funds for watershed management projects over the years has delayed our plans,” Moradi complained.
For instance, in the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-2016), watershed management projects across 8 million hectares should have been executed, but only 3.8 million hectares were covered.
Experts and environmentalists including Moradi say long years of mismanagement and wasteful policies are at the root of Iran’s worsening water shortage.
Watershed management technologies are useful solutions to fight water crisis. Techniques such as flood dispersal, aquifer management and revival of natural resources in a watershed area can help reinforce groundwater resources.