Severe Water Shortages Predicted For Tehran

Demonstrators Sentenced To Prison And Lashes

30 Apr 2022 by The Water Diplomat

An official from the Tehran Regional Water Company has disclosed a significant decrease in the inflow into the five water supply dams for Tehran Province as compared to the same period last year. 

The current storage is estimated at 409 million m³, which represents a 30 percent reduction in storage compared to the 669 million m³ recorded last year. By contrast, water consumption in Tehran this year peaked at 3.2 million m³/day between March 6th and April 16th, a 90 percent increase relative to the same period last year.

Tehran Regional Water Company deputy manager Mohammad Shahriari warned of impending water shortages in the city. In November 2021, Shahriari had already stressed that both groundwater and surface water were in a critical state, and that there had not been a drought of this severity in the last 50 years.

Elsewhere in the country, a group of 20 demonstrators have been sentenced to 7 years in prison and 74 lashes for voicing their opposition to a water transfer project.

The protests took place in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari on April 17th to express opposition to the construction of a tunnel that will transfer water out of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province. The 10 km Golab water transfer tunnel has been designed to divert water from the Zayandeh Rud River to supply water to the Sefit Dasht steel plant owned by the Isfahan Steel Company.

Although Charmahal-Bakhtiari is traditionally a water rich region, there has been a decline in available water resources due to project development for irrigation in other areas, as well as a spate of recent droughts.

In earlier protests in 2021, hundreds of farmer-protestors had camped on the dry riverbed of the Zayandeh Rud River in Isfahan for weeks to object to water transfer projects that had deprived them of water. When the protests spread to other towns, the government stepped in and broke up the protests with tear gas.

More than 80 percent of Iran is classified as arid or semi-arid, with an average annual rainfall of 250 millimetres, which is less than one-third of the world average. Iran has witnessed an increase in average temperatures of around 1C during the past century, but maximum temperatures could increase by as much as 5 percent in the coming century.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has predicted a sharp decline in rainfall by 75 percent in Iran over the coming five years. The IPCC has predicted that Iran will undergo pronounced climate change, particularly in the form of droughts. Studies have shown a high vulnerability of Iran’s river flows to climate change in most of the country’s river basins.

The government has warned of unprecedented drought and 29 of the country’s 31 provinces have been affected.

Currently, the Iranian Red Crescent Society estimates that some five million people - approximately 70 percent of the rural population in the most drought affected provinces - are at high risk of drought related impacts.   

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