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EghtesadOnline: Tehran Municipality takes out 180 million cubic meters of water from depleting underground resources in the sprawling capital per year, director of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa).

“This huge amount is used only for watering parks and greenspaces. This is while the water crisis has been a serious concern for years,” Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Tehran Municipality uses half million cubic meters of water every day, all of which is pumped from underground tables in bad shape, he complained. 

“To help reduce this prohibitive amount, the Energy Ministry and TM signed a contract on Wednesday (Sept. 2) based on which the latter is obliged to use recycled wastewater instead of the rapidly diminishing underground resources.”

As per the contract, TM is required to meet at least 60% of its daily need (300,000 cubic meters) from unconventional sources, namely treated wastewater, Khamesi said.

Tehran Province Water and Wastewater Company is willing and able to deliver reclaimed wastewater to the capital’s municipality, he was quoted as saying.

“Six wastewater treatment plants are up and running in Tehran producing 450,000 cubic meters of processed sewage a day.” 

The output, which complies with environmental standards, is piped largely to south Tehran for farming and industrial use and is also suitable for green spaces, he said.

Recalling that wastewater is playing an increasingly important role in conserving water resources in most countries, he said, “The TPWWC is ready to supply 300,000 cubic meters of wastewater to municipalities” across the megacity that continues to expand despite the mounting urban problems.

Tehran wastewater treatment plants are located in Shahrak-e Gharb, Shahrak-e Mahallati, Ekbatan Town, Zargandeh, Qeytariyeh and Sahebqaraniyeh districts.

An estimated $2 billion has been spent on expanding wastewater infrastructure in the capital home to at least 13 million people.


Rising Consumption

Referring to the rise in water consumption in Tehran, the Abfa chief said up until the recent past consumption was below 3 mcm per day. But since the beginning of the fiscal year in March (outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic), daily consumption has been above 3.4 mcm, 30% of which comes from groundwater.

“Dam water is not merely used for drinking purposes but also for industrial and agricultural sectors. Therefore, good rainfall (in March and April) that led to the rise in dam water levels should not create an illusion of abundance.”

Daily water use in the province (210-250 liters per capita) is 20% higher than other cities in Iran and 30% above other megacities with the same population.

The amount of potable water used annually in Tehran Province exceeds 1.4 billion cubic meters, accounting for almost 20% of the total fresh water consumption in the country of 80 million plus people.

The unsustainable and dangerous consumption patterns are threatening water supplies in the capital as has been the case in many parts of country suffering from prolonged draught, falling precipitation and rising temperatures related to global warming.

Needless to say, the sharp decline in groundwater levels is having devastating consequences. Excessive pumping is harming groundwater tables and stopping wells from reaching groundwater. When groundwater is overused, lakes, streams and rivers connected to groundwater also start diminishing. 

Groundwater overdraft can also lead to land subsidence as it occurs when there is loss of support below the ground.

Destruction of vegetation, increasing possibility of dust storms, holes in the plains and higher salt content in groundwater are other grave consequences of overconsumption.

Energy Ministry data show that the earth is sinking in some plains in Tehran Province by about 0.5 millimeter every day with conditions more critical in Shahriar and Varamin counties southwest and south of Tehran.


Tehran Abfa Water Policy