News / Middle East

Iran’s Water Crisis Threatens its Future

Latian Dam Resevoir outside Tehran (courtesy Mehr News)
Latian Dam Resevoir outside Tehran (courtesy Mehr News)
Maryam Manzoori
A looming water crisis in Iran has officials warning of water rationing for the capital Tehran.   The Mehr news agency quotes Khosro Erteghaei, the head of Tehran’s regional water company as saying water levels at the four reservoirs that serve Tehran are at a critical level.  He warns that if residents of Tehran and nearby provinces do not reduce their consumption “we will have a problem.”

Officials say if water consumption is not cut back they will consider options such as scheduling water outages for high consuming households, and lowering  water pressure in Tehran’s pipeline network that serves an estimated 22 million people.

It’s not only Tehran that is facing a water crisis. 

The deputy head of Iran’s water and sewage company recently warned that “500 cities in Iran are facing a water crisis.”   In early February, Iran’s energy minister Hamid Chitchian said the country's water supply has dropped by 20-percent over the past year.  

The crisis is also affecting Iran’s lakes and rivers.  Rivers in central Iran near Isfahan and Ahvaz close to the Persian Gulf have dried up.  Hamoun Lake near the Afghan border is now a dustbowl.   Lake Urmia, one of the largest salt-water lakes in the world has dropped about 200-meters, and winds blowing dry salt from the lake bed could contaminate nearby agriculture, threatening the livelihoods of an estimated three million people who live nearby. 

UN officials say dust from dried up rivers and lakes is already contributing to air pollution levels in Iranian cities, four of which are classified belonging to the 10 most polluted cities in the world. 

The government’s response has not been welcomed by the public.  In March officials decided to raise water prices by 20-percent. 

Experts blame climate change, desertification, poor water management and Iran’s propensity to build dams for the problem.  The private intelligence company Stratfor noted in a recent report that Iran’s rainfall rate is also only about one-third to one-fourth of the global average. 

Stratfor says more than 70 percent of Iran’s precipitation evaporates and that 50 percent of Iran’s water supply also comes from fast-shrinking underground water supplies which have been poorly managed.  

As the crisis grows so do the dangers of social unrest. 

Last year Al Monitor, a web site focusing on the Middle east,  reported that hundreds of farmers in Isfahan province destroyed a pipeline in clashes with police that was carrying water away from a nearby river to the town of Yazd.  And former Agriculture minister Issa Kalantari last year told the Ghanoon newspaper that Iran’s water crisis is more of a threat to the country than “Israel, America or political infighting” among Iran’s political classes.

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Comment Sorting
by: Cranksy from: USA
April 06, 2014 1:41 PM
Well, a relatively apolitical article about Iran in an American source.

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 06, 2014 10:01 AM
The people of Iran are very unfortunate to have a theocratic authoritarian government, that wastes a tremendous amounts of money and resources. They waste the resources in fomenting and being involved in conflicts, and in support of proxi terrorists on a global scale, like Hezbollah. And then there is their nuclear programs, and the programs to produce advanced weapons, more massive amounts of resources wasted.
Given the number of higher educational establishments, the rate of literacy, the enterprising nature of the iranian people, Iran should be a very developed and prosperous country. The iranian authoritarian regime's involvement in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, must cost the iranian economy a Billion+ $ per month, maybe more; its negative involvent in Yemen, Bahrein, Sudan, Gaza, intermitent attacks by iranian proxis like Hezbollah against civilians, tens of millions more a year. If the iranian government used all those mis-used financial resources to improve and better the communal infrastructure, water would not be an issue of concern. If it employed the tens of thousands of well educated capable individuals in issues of social and economic development, rather than an ever growing armaments and nuclear industry, Iran would be amongst the top economies in the region. Lastly, if Iran progressively advanced the human rights of its people, it would become a positive development and inovation country. Iran's problems, including its isolation, stem from a government that is authoritarian, focussed on destructive programs, and displays a high level of misguided un-necessary agression. If you look at the iranian expatriate communities, around the world, they are hard working, contribute positively to humanity, and are very successful, when afforded the opportunity to shape their own destiny, not so the iranian government, which is a negative drag on Iran, the iranian people and humanity.

by: John from: U.S.
April 06, 2014 9:50 AM
Can't believe VOA published a weak article.writer needs to learn writing methods.

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