EghtesadOnline: To further improve potable water quality and curb land subsidence in Tehran Province, the first phase of a water treatment plant is complete and will become operational soon, director of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa).
“The $20 million facility (Tehran's sixth treatment plant) has the capacity to treat 7,500 liters of water per second and will help raise overall capacity in the province from 25,000 liters to 32,500 liters per second,” Qassem Taqizadeh Khamesi was quoted at the weekend as saying by the Energy Ministry news portal.
The second phase is due to be ready next summer after which the plant’s daily capacity will increase by 2,500 l/s to reach 10,000 l/s, he noted.
Located in the west of Tehran (Shahid Hemmat Highway), the project in an undertaking of the Tehran Regional Water Company.
“A part of stored water in Amir Kabir Dam (or Karaj Dam) will be pumped to the plant through a 30-km tunnel,” he said.
There are five treatment facilities in the sprawling capital that treat 25,000 liters of water per second (2 billion liters per day), and the new plant will boost capacity to above 30,000 liters per second (2.8 billion l/d).
“Close to three billion liters of water (3 million cubic meters) is consumed in Tehran on daily basis (1.1 billion cubic meters per annum).” Of the total daily demand, 30% (1 billion liters) must be extracted from underground sources that are depleting faster than expected, and the new plant will help gradually cut demand.
Five dams, namely Amirkabir and Taleqan (in the west) as well as Latian, Lar and Mamlou (in the east) supply Tehran. The dams provide 70% of Tehran’s water.
According to the Abfa chief, the province is home to an extended network of rivers (3,900 km) and protecting their banks from “mafia-like” land grabbers has become a colossal task.
Due to the steep decline in groundwater levels, it is crucial to stop violations in water use in the metropolis, he stressed. "Last year, 1,337 illegal wells were closed and this year 1,400 more will be deactivated.”
The number of unauthorized wells in the area is estimated at 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. They rightly insist that the solution lies in curbing consumption and waste – two key issues that have contributed terribly to the worsening water crisis in the dry and arid country of 83 million people.
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 the omnipresent waste that is causing serious concern among conservationists, environmental experts and academia.
Though reversing land subsidence is impossible, slowing its progress is achievable if the government and public rise to the occasion.
In related news, the Energy Ministry news website quoted Seyed Hassan Razavi, managing director of Tehran Regional Water Company, as saying that water consumption in Tehran Province jumped to 1.2 billion cubic meters in the last water year that ended on Sept. 22.
“This was up 100 mcm, compared to the same period in 2018-2019.”
Tehran received 462 millimeters of rainfall in the 365-day period (Sept 22, 2019 to Sept. 22, 2020), which was the highest 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.
Tehran dams now hold about 800 million cubic meters of water, down 102 mcm compared to this time last year.
Razavi said his company is struggling to implement water infrastructure projects because of cumbersome regulations and the bloated bureaucracy plus the lack of effective 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 in the east of the capital because the dam is the habitat for red spot trouts, “an issue that can and should be resolved if they (DoE) cooperate”.