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EghtesadOnline: The widening gap between what consumers pay and the final cost of water treatment and supply has pushed the state-owned Tehran Province Water and Wastewater Company (Abfa) into the red to the tune of $120 million so far, the company director said.

“Treating and supplying one cubic meter of water in the sprawling capital cost 10 cents, but subscribers are charged less than 3 cents,” Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari was quoted as saying by the Energy Ministry news website.

Referring to Abfa’s financial problems, he said a revised policy is essential for water tariffs to narrow the widening gap between Abfa’s expenses and revenue from water.

The national water network in Tehran Province stretches over 10,000 kilometers, of which 40% (or 4,000 km) is decrepit and must be replaced, he noted.

“Due to financial constraints, the company can only lay 300 km of new pipelines a year.  In short, rehabilitating the entire ageing and dilapidated network will take more than a decade.”

According to Bakhtiari, unlike other provinces where 6% of water resources are used by households, the volume in Tehran is above 40% because of population density (973 people per square kilometer).

Drawing parallels between Tehran and Isfahan, he said between June and August, daily water consumption in Tehran increased by 700,000 cubic meters reaching 4 million cubic meters, whereas consumption in Isfahan (with 2.1 million people) was 600,000 cm/d.

Despite regular warnings from Abfa, water use in the capital and its suburbs has reached prohibitive levels and experts have repeatedly warned that this pattern of consumption is unsustainable.



Healthcare Waste

In related news, the news portal quoted Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi, head of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran, as saying that the coronavirus cannot pollute underground water resources.

“Healthcare waste (a potential source of contamination) is disposed with utmost care and there is no way the pandemic or any other virus can pollute our underground water supplies,” he said.

Rejecting rumors on social media about failure to uphold standard procedures to dispose hospital waste, he said 90% of hospitals are equipped with medical incinerators and a part of the waste is burnt inside the hospital. The rest is collected and buried in landfills.

Approximately 65% of Iran’s potable water comes from underground sources namely wells, the ancient qanat water systems and mineral springs.

Tehran Municipality’s Environment and Sustainable Development Office regularly supervises not only hospital wastewater treatment facilities but also the way hazardous materials are collected and disposed in landfills, the Abfa chief said.

Wastewater from hospitals can contain traces of viruses and multi-resistant bacteria to medical agents and chemicals for cancer treatment.

Referring to Behesht Zahra Cemetery where Covid-19 victims are washed (observing protocols set by a special coronavirus committee), he said Tehran Regional Water and Wastewater Company monitors the cemetery’s wastewater plant on daily basis. The chlorination system of the graveyard is controlled via online systems.

As of Wednesday morning 431,000 people had contracted the virus in Iran and the death toll was 27,000, official data showed.


Tehran Abfa Supply Consumers cost of water