EghtesadOnline: The Majlis on Wednesday obliged the Central Bank of Iran to allocate $80 million for the electrification of agro wells. The CBI will make the funds available through commercial banks for the Power Generation and Distribution Company (Tavanir) and its subsidiaries to supply electricity to agricultural wells, Mehr News Agency reported.
According to the Energy Ministry, there are half a million legal and 320,000 illegal wells in Iran and the ministry has been equipping traditional wells with smart meters in recent years. Smart meters help regular and efficient monitoring of power and water consumption.
‘Smart’ or ‘intelligent’ wells are advanced wells with sensors and valves installed downhole to allow easy and systematic monitoring by utilities.
Waste and overconsumption of groundwater from wells has become a major problem in Iran's permanent fight against the water crisis that has gotten worse over the past half century as precipitation declines and consumption rises.
A smart meter is a modern electricity meter that digitally sends meter readings to energy suppliers and ensures more accurate billing.
In related news, managing director of Semnan Regional Water Company said: “About 90% of the wells in Semnan Province in industry, agriculture and drinking sectors are equipped with smart meters”. Iraj Heydarian said the electrifying process will continue until all of the wells are equipped with smart meters.
“Monitoring water consumption without the need for physical presence at the sites are among the benefits of the program,” he was quoted as saying by the Energy Ministry news portal.
Smart meters are installed on authorized wells to discourage excess water withdrawal, he said.
In other news, the deputy for conservation affairs at the South Khorasan Regional Water Company said: “All agro wells in South Khorasan will be equipped with smart meters by summer.”
Recalling that the farming sector consumes 90% of the water in the eastern province, Saeed Pourjafar said: "Until last year and over nine years 90% of the province's wells were equipped with smart meters."
While South Khorasan will complete the smart metering program soon, North Khorasan Province has made less than 20% progress in this regard.
“There are 3,400 authorized wells in the province and about 450 million cubic meters of water is extracted from them annually,” the managing director of the provincial Regional Water Company said.
“The number of illegal wells is over 4,000 and 35 mcm is withdrawn from them,” Aghil Mortazavi said. “It is regrettable that water overdraft from authorized wells is more than illegal wells”.
Excess groundwater abstraction and dwindling rainfall have led to land subsidence in parts of the northeastern province, he added.
Land subsidence is defined by scientific references as a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the earth's surface owing to subsurface movement of earth materials.
Principal causes are aquifer-system compaction, drainage of organic soils, underground mining, gas and oil extraction as well as earthquake.
However, the main reason of land subsidence in Iran is injudicious groundwater extraction that has been causing serious concern among conservationists, environmental/economic experts and academia.
Although reversing land subsidence is almost impossible, slowing its progress is doable provided the government and public cooperate.
Reforming farming systems is the key to addressing the worsening problem.
Caption: There are half a million legal and 320,000 illegal wells in Iran.