EghtesadOnline: To reduce water use from depleting underground resources in Mazandaran Province, a desalination unit is set to become operational at Shahid Salimi (Neka) Power Plant in April, head of the power station said.
“Construction of the desalination unit with a capacity to produce 6 million liters of water a day from the Caspian Sea has made 95% progress and will go on stream soon,” Mohsen Nemati was quoted as saying by IRNA.
A project of domestic engineers and water experts, the initiative was launched in 2018 and was supposed to be completed in 2019. However, the US economic blockade against Iranian individuals and organizations made it difficult to import equipment and the venture was delayed, Nemati said.
Located 25 km north of Neka City, the 2,700-megawatt thermal plant is one of the largest in Iran. It has one steam unit, four steam turbines, a combined-cycle power facility and a gas unit. The plant started work in the early 1980s.
“At least 5 million liters of water is extracted from three deep wells per day to cool the turbines,” he said, and added that as of April the wells will be sealed and Caspian Sea water will be desalinated in the plant for cooling purposes.
As per an Energy Ministry directive issued in 2019, it is mandatory for all 123 thermal power plants to use either reclaimed wastewater or desalinated water [instead of underground resources] for cooling the towers.
Water is being pumped from underground tables much faster than it can be naturally replenished. Underground resources are key to meeting demand for potable water and farming but unending demand is making aquifers a thing of the past.
“Due to proximity to the Caspian Sea, constructing a desalination unit is economically feasible compared to building new wastewater treatment plants used in some power stations like Hamadan’s Shahid Mofateh Thermal Power Plant,” he said. Curbing water consumption is an undeniable compulsion, more so because for decades Iran has been in the grip of a major water crisis that was only worsened as the population grows and demand rises.
In related news, IRNA quoted Mohammad Ebrahim Yakhkeshi, managing director of Mazandaran Regional Water Company, as saying that about 180 million cubic meters of water is extracted from aquifers via 2,500 unauthorized wells in the area.
“Deficits of underground sources in Behshahr, Neka and Gelougah counties have reached 30 mcm and granting new licenses to dig wells must be banned.”
Renewable water resources in the region stands at about 6 bmc of which 4.5 bcm is surface water and the rest underground sources.
Mazandaran Province is located along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and adjacent to the central Alborz Mountain range. It is a major producer of farmed fish, and aquaculture is an important contributor to the local economy.
Over 70 kinds of agricultural products are grown in Mazandaran. It meets 40% of the national demand for rice and 50% of citrus fruits. The province is the sole domestic kiwi supplier.
There are 230,000 hectares of paddy fields in the lush northern province producing one million tons of rice per annum or 42% of the total consumption. Iranians consume 3.5 million tons of rice a year. Domestic production is 2.9 million tons.
Iran’s annual water consumption is 100 billion cubic meters.
The World Resources Institute has a list it calls ‘Extremely High Baseline Water Stress” in which 17 countries are named. In the ranking of the most water stressed countries Iran is in the top four after Qatar, Israel and Lebanon.