Poor Wastewater Infrastructure Taking Toll on Karoun River
EghtesadOnline: Close to 80,000 cubic meters of industrial and municipal effluent flows into the world famous Karoun River in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, every day, head of the provincial branch of Department of Environment said.
“The Ahvaz East Wastewater Treatment Plant (with daily capacity of 112,000 cubic meters) was launched in 2018. But due to the incomplete wastewater infrastructure (sewage collection network) in the region, as little as 20,000 cubic meters of effluent is recycled at the facility per day,” Mohammad Javad Ashrafi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Ahvaz is divided into eastern and western parts via the Karoun River that provides water for farming and industries.
On a yearly basis, 100,000 cubic meters of wastewater is produced in the eastern flank of the key oil city, of which only 20% is recycled and the rest is discharged into the river and the stench has made life miserable for residents in and around the city, he added.
“Funding to complete the network in the eastern part of the city ($56 million) has been made available through the National Development Fund of Iran, the sovereign wealth fund.”
According to the official, operations to complete the sewage collection network is underway and is supposed to be completed and connected to the Ahvaz East Wastewater Treatment Plant in September.
Completion of the project will revive 7,000 hectares of farmland in Ahvaz.
In addition to meeting a part of the water requirement for farming and industries, treatment plants help preserve the environment.
Collecting and treating wastewater is essential to protecting the environment because if it is not it contaminates clean water underground.
“While the country grapples with a worsening water crisis, less than 25% of the wastewater is recycled due to poor infrastructure.”
Around 5 billion cubic meters of wastewater is produced annually in Iran, which if treated can help compensate the rising water deficit that has become a grave national concern as consumption rises and production falls.
Given years of dwindling rainfall and rising consumption, authorities and independent experts have been pleading for more attention and funds for collecting, treating and recycling water.
Referring to hospital waste (a major source of contamination), the DoE official said all hospitals in the vicinity of Karoun River are equipped with treatment plants and there are “no worries in this regard.” Nonetheless, wastewater from the huge sugarcane factories still pours into the river. Khuzestan is a major sugarcane producer.
With a population of about 1.4 million, there is only one wastewater treatment facility in the west of the city that barely recycles 30,000 cubic meter a day.
According to Behnam Moridi, director of the provincial water company, at least 50% of Ahvaz wastewater infrastructure, including 1,100 dilapidated pipelines, are in urgent need of repairs.
“Close to 100 kilometers of decrepit pipelines, some reportedly over 30 years old, have been restored and the rest are being renovated.”
Metal pipes, most of which are old, leaky and rusty, are being replaced with high density polyethylene tubes, he said, noting that the project needs five more years to be completed (due to financial constraints).
The wastewater network stretches over 2,300 kilometers and was extended by 35 km in 2019.
The oil-rich city is deprived of efficient infrastructure that can collect surface water, so as soon as precipitation surpasses 10 millimeters rainwater penetrates underground wastewater network causing extensive damage.