EghtesadOnline: Potable water consumption in Tehran Province jumped to 626 million cubic meters in the last water year that ended on Sep 22, managing director of Tehran Regional Water Company said.
“This was up 8%, or 46 mcm, compared to the same period in 2018-2019,” ILNA quoted Seyed Hassan Razavi as saying.
Tehran received 462 millimeters of rainfall in the 365-day period (Sept 22, 2019 till Sept. 22, 2020), which was the highest level in the past 50 years. However, due to low snowfall water flow into five dams around the province fell by 15% to reach 2.2 billion cubic meters in the period.
Tehran dams now hold 825 million cubic meters of water, down 102 mcm compared to this time last year. The five dams supplying Tehran include Taleqan, Latyan, Mamlou, Karaj and Lar. Together they can hold 1.93 billion cubic meters of water.
Referring to water use in other sectors, the official noted that farmers and industries in the region consumed 14% and 8% more water compared to a year ago. He did not provide figures.
“Water and wastewater infrastructure in the province, including the ageing infrastructure, which is a major source of seepage, is in dire need of renovation.”
Razavi said his company is struggling to implement water infrastructure projects because of cumbersome regulations and bureaucratic procedures plus the lack of cooperation from state bodies like the Department of Environment and the municipality.
Giving an example, he said the DOE does not allow TRWC increase water transfer from Lar Dam to the east of the capital as the dam is the habitat for red spot trouts, “an issue that can and should be resolved if they (DoE) cooperate”.
“If the water and wastewater infrastructure does not improve, political and social unrest will be inevitable,” he warned.
Tehran’s population density is 973 per square kilometer, which is 20 times over and above the national average. With nearly 13.5 million people, the capital has 16.5% share of the total population. Tehran accounts for less than 1.1% of the country’s land area, but for 16.5% of the population and 45% of the industrial base.
The TRWC chief said there are “mafia-like” land grabbing webs that illegally occupy river banks and ending this lawlessness demands judicial clout.
“The province is home to an extended network of rivers (3,900 km) and preserving their banks is of crucial.”
Due to the steep decline in groundwater levels, it is essential to stop violations in water use in the metropolis, he added. "Last year, 1,337 illegal wells were closed. This year, 1,400 more will be deactivated.”
The number of unauthorized wells in the area is estimated to be around 50,000.
Wells in and around Tehran are in bad condition with systemic water decline and experts have warned that the situation will not improve with good rainfall in one or two years.
An annual 31 centimeters of land subsidence is reported in Tehran Province, the main reason being injudicious groundwater extraction (3 billion cubic meters per year) and waste that is causing serious concern among conservationists, environmental experts and academia.
Though reversing land subsidence is impossible, slowing its progress is doable if the government and public cooperate.