EghtesadOnline: Studies to transfer water from the Sea of Oman to three eastern provinces in Iran have been completed and Tabesh Company has started the executive work, head of the company said.
Extraction, desalination and transfer of water from the Oman Sea to Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi is among measures the government has taken to combat drought and help ease access to water in the provinces, IRNA reported Amir Moqaddam as saying.
"We will deliver water from the shores of Chabahar, to the three eastern provinces. The project includes a transmission line stretching over 1,530 km,” Moqaddam said
“Our first priority is water supply to Chabahar City in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan and its rural areas. It is expected that fresh water will be provided for drinking needs of Chabahar and the surrounding regions by summer.”
The transmission line in Sistan-Baluchestan Province is 820 km and construction is estimated to cost $1.66 billion, he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The daily water deficit in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan Province, is about 100,000 cubic meters, Alireza Qasemi, managing director of the provincial Water and Wastewater Company said.
"Water supply to the city, with a population of 900,000 people, is as low as 150,000 cubic meters per day, which is adequate for only 300,000 residents."
At least 250,000 cubic meters of water are needed by Zahedan on a daily basis, but underdeveloped infrastructure has resulted in serious water shortage, pushing people over the edge, he added.
Chabahar is another parched region which needs at least 354,000 cubic meters of water every day. Transferring water without harming the environment is an obligation of governments. To find the least costly mode, multi-faceted studies on the ecological and environmental conditions of the area as well as the environmental impact of transferring water have been carried out.
When the project is fully operational, an estimated 750 million cubic meters of fresh water will be supplied annually to Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces for drinking and industrial use.
Sistan-Baluchestan in the southeast will be the first to receive water followed by the other two provinces in 2022.
The three provinces have been long suffering from acute water shortages. Environmentalists and experts say transferring water from the Gulf of Oman through pipelines to the parched and water-stressed regions is the last option to tackle the water crisis.
Farmers in Sistan-Baluchestan, South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi consume 11 billion cubic meters of water a year. Experts have said that if the three regions cut water consumption only by 3% a year there will be no need for the multi-billion-dollar projects to transfer sea water – moves that have already invited huge controversies and environmental challenges.
It is generally believed that macro projects (water transfer) usually lead to environmental disaster like exacerbating soil erosion and throwing marine ecosystems out of balance.
Environmentalists warn that in addition to harming the eco-system, transferring water (via a 1,600km pipeline) can create false hope among farmers and undermine their obligation to rethink unacceptable and wasteful farming practices that have long reached crisis point.
A study conducted by the World Resources Institute has ranked Iran as the world's 24th most water-stressed nation, putting it at extremely high risk of future water scarcity.
Established in 2019 in Chabahar, Tabesh Company has been assigned to desalinate and transfer water from the Oman Sea to the east of the country.