EghtesadOnline: The Energy Ministry started 250 power and water projects in this fiscal year (March 2020-2021) with $1.7 billion. So far 122 projects costing $1 billion have been completed, including water transfer from the Persian Gulf, the energy minister said.
“Come March the remaining projects including 11 dams, 11 wastewater treatment plants, water treatment units, renewable power stations, and 2,000 MW of thermal power plants will come online,” ILNA quoted Reza Ardakanian as saying.
Among the 122 projects that are operational are water pipelines and infrastructure from the Persian Gulf to three southern provinces.
“The ministry has issued permits for the transfer of 26 billion cubic meters of water without desalination to Bushehr, Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces,” the minister said.
The sea water is used for fish farming, industries and cooling power plant towers.
“The ministry has issued a license for desalinating 4.4 billion cubic meters of salt water including 1.4 bcm of fresh water to the three provinces,” Ardakanian said.
Currently 760 million cubic meters of seawater is desalinated and produces 250 mcm of fresh water.
It takes about 8 liters of seawater to make between 2.7 and 4 liters of freshwater, depending on equipment used in the facility.
Over the years groundwater has been extracted from aquifers at a faster rate than the recharge because of extremely low rainfall, unorganized urbanization and population growth rate.
As the water crisis worsens in the dry region where underground resources are depleting rapidly, using unconventional water resources, namely saline water, has become inevitable.
The arid Bushehr and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces are among the most water-stressed regions. Conditions have become so bad that urban authorities have to send water tankers to some rural areas.
To help ensure sustainable supply of water in the years to come, the minister said more desalination plants would be set up along the Persian Gulf coast.
He said in the coming weeks, one of the largest projects to desalinate water from the Persian Gulf for drinking purposes in Hormozgan Province and for industrial use in Kerman and Yazd provinces, will be inaugurated.
Groundwater balance in Kerman and Yazd provinces is negative -- the rate of water withdrawal is higher than recharge.
It is expected that transferring water from the Persian Gulf in the south will help alleviate the water crisis in the two dry but important industrial regions.
Upon completion of the first phase of the water transfer project, 150 million cubic meters of seawater will be sent to the water-stressed regions annually. The second and third phases will add 150 mcm.
Although academia and economic experts consider water transfer schemes to be environmentally hazardous and destructive, using water from Persian Gulf is the last resort as the country grapples with an unending water crisis that is taking on dangerous proportions due to high consumption and waste.
There are 61 desalination plants operating in the country and 24 are under construction, Ardakanian said, adding that 100% of the urban population and 82% of rural population have access to safe and sustainable drinking water.
Regarding electricity access, he said almost the entire 83 million population is connected to the national power grid.