Khuzestan’s Dams Struggling to Provide Water for Drinking, Irrigation, Power Generation
EghtesadOnline: Karkheh and Dez dams in Khuzestan Province, which overflowed two years ago due to torrential and unprecedented rainfall, are now about half empty and considering the sizzling summer temperatures in the southwestern province and high water consumption, the two dams may have difficulty supplying water for drinking, agriculture and power generation purposes.
The decline in precipitation in the current water year (started September 2020) has worsened the drought the country has been grappling with for years, which consequently caused water stress, ISNA reported.
With the rise of temperature and water consumption, the condition of the Karkheh and Dez dams’ reserves has deteriorated.
Karkheh Dam is a large multi-purpose dam built on the Karkheh River with a reservoir capacity of 5.9 billion cubic meters.
The dam is designed to supply drinking water to some counties of Khuzestan Province, irrigate 320,000 hectares, produce 400 MW of hydro-electricity and prevent downstream floods.
Currently, only 44% of the reservoir of Karkheh Dam are full, meaning there is less than 3 billion cubic meters of water in the dam, managing director of Karkheh Dam and Power Plant said.
“The first priority in Karkheh Dam is to supply drinking water to the people. Due to the poor condition of Karkheh Dam and the low amount of water in its reservoir, we may have to halt electricity generation at the hydropower plant of the dam,” Mohammad Reza Yazdanipour was also quoted as saying by ISNA.
This is while the national power grid is under pressure since the demand exceeds output and this has led to outages across the country.
Several hydroelectric power plants have gone off the grid because of shortage of water in the dams, causing major blackouts.
Due to the decline in precipitation and water level in dams across Iran, electricity supply has decreased by 3,000 megawatts compared to the last Iranian year (March 2020-21).
Considering the current conditions of the electricity network, losing more hydropower plants will surely make a bad situation worse.
Dez Dam Half Empty
The current summer is the driest in the past half century in the country and the drought prevalent in Iran has contributed to the water crisis.
Dez Dam, as one of the major dams of Khuzestan Province, is currently experiencing an unprecedented and difficult situation in providing water for farmlands and electricity generation.
Located on the Dez River, it can hold 2.6 billion cubic meters of water and its primary purpose is hydroelectric power production and irrigation.
It has a 520-megawatt power station and its reservoir helps irrigate up to 130,000 hectares of farmland.
However, currently only half of the dam is full and the water level in the dam is hardly sufficient for both power generation and supplying water to farmers.
“While the average level of water in the dam is 350 meters, the figure is now 330 meters,” Saeed Raoufinasab, managing director of Dez Dam and Power Plant, said.
“If the focus is only on power generation, the water level should not go below 320 meters, but now we have accepted the risk and if necessary, we will continue power production up until the level reaches 305 meters,” he added.
Iran is located in an arid and semi-arid region. Close to 150 urban and rural areas were on the verge of water tension last summer, which is projected to cross 210 this year.
Energy Ministry’s data show that close to 30 million people are struggling with varying degrees of water scarcity and related challenges that have only deteriorated.
According to water authorities, at least 210 cities will encounter heightened water tension until September and in more than 7,000 rural districts, potable water will be supplied via tankers in the summer.
Soaring temperatures have made households and businesses crank up cooling systems that are very water-intensive. A majority of homes use the traditional evaporative coolers that consume a great deal of water.
According to global standards, a four-member family's average water use is 15 cubic meters per month in the world, whereas in large Iranian cities, including Tehran, it is 30 cubic meters for almost 40% of households.