EghtesadOnline: Desalination projects worth $160 million are underway across the southern Bushehr Province with a total capacity of 160,000 cubic meters per day, of which 40% will soon go on stream, the head of the company said.
“The completion of these projects is expected to increase the dry regions’ desalinated water supply by 35%,” Abolhassan Aali was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Currently, 10% of the drinking water required in Bushehr Province are supplied with the help of desalination plants, which figure is predicted to reach 45% in 2023, he added.
Giving a breakdown, Aali noted that four plants, namely Bushehr, Borazjan, Vahdatiyeh and Siraf, with a total capacity of 60,000 cubic meters per day will become operational in summer and the rest are slated to go on stream gradually by 2023.
“Although extracting water from wells or transferring it from dams [15 cents per cubic meter] is cheaper than desalination [100 cents per cubic meter], the government is determined to complete the incomplete projects as the ongoing water crisis in the area is deteriorating,” he said.
Located in southwestern Iran, the arid province is one of the most water-stressed regions. Its conditions have worsened such that water authorities have to dispatch water tankers to several areas (especially in summer).
Bushehr is located along the Persian Gulf coastline. However, due to lack of desalination plants, 65% of Bushehr’s water are supplied by neighboring provinces, such as Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad, through rusty pipes laid 25 years ago, because of which around 40% of water are wasted.
Some regions in the province get less than 50 mm of rainfall per year. Groundwater overdraft, more than 80% of which are used in the agricultural sector, adds to the steep decline in groundwater levels.
The official said desalination in Bushehr Province has increased 2.5-fold in the past three years but is insufficient.
Saline water processing has increased from 10,000 cm/d in 2018 to more than 25,000 cm/d now. However, as the water crisis gets worse, extra capacity is needed for rural areas.
Bushehr’s water scarcity has worsened due to the aging pipelines, from which large volumes of water are lost through seepage. Almost 40% of water are wasted due to pipeline erosion and derelict infrastructure.
Water grid in the province extends over 10,000 kilometers, of which 50% are in dire need of repair.
“Close to 300 kilometers of the rusting pipelines should be replaced with new ones per year, for which $50 million are required. The only way we can survive this summer is by speeding up the completion of incomplete [desalination] projects,” Aali said. Experts say the gradually expanding desalination industry can meet the demand of several cities, including Minab, Jask, Qeshm, Kish, Abu Musa, Deylam, Asalouyeh and Genaveh.
Tapping into the sea is on the Energy Ministry’s agenda because it is more viable for maintaining a sustainable supply rather than depleting the fast dwindling underground resources, most of which are on the verge of disappearing.
The agricultural, industrial and household sectors in the province are supplied with at least 800 million cubic meters of water per annum, of which 700 mcm are used for farming.
Water is supplied from surface, groundwater and desalination sources. The main agricultural products in the province include wheat, barley, onions, sesame, tomatoes, eggplants, lemons and dates.
Known as an industrial region, Bushehr is home to major refineries and power plants. The giant South Pars Gas Field is located in the province’s Asalouyeh County.
Iran’s sole nuclear power plant is also located in this province. The water needed for the nuclear facility is supplied from the Persian Gulf, which is not included in data provided by the provincial water company.
Conventional water resources such as rainwater or river runoff are not adequate to meet growing demand. Therefore, as groundwater resources are drying up, the rise in desalination capacity will help address the water shortage in the southern province.