Tehran Experiences five days of Water Cuts

15 Jun 2023 by The Water Diplomat

The Iranian Capital Tehran has suffered five days of interruptions in the supply of piped water which has been linked to a flooding event.  Iran’s Minister of Energy announced that the interruptions were caused by a landslide that occurred in the vicinity of the Karaj dam, causing high levels of turbidity in the water. The Karaj dam is located 63 kilometres northwest if Tehran and was built as a multipurpose dam to supply irrigation water to the Karaj area as well as drinking water for Tehran. The landslide reportedly took place downstream of the dam and blocked the water supply, following which works needed to be undertaken to free a 300-metre-long channel to restore the water supply   

Officials announced on the 14th of June that water supplies had been restored, but tankers were still distributing emergency water supplies in the city on that day and water pressure in the pipes remained low. Officials had announced on the 13th that water treatment facilities had resumed operations and that efforts were underway to restore the water pressure in the city.

Iran has experienced public protests over water supplies in 2021 and 2022: in 2021 protests that started in Khuzestan province spread to nine other regions. In 2022 protests broke out in the cities of Hamedan and Shahrekord in response to water cut offs that lasted several days. In 2022, four cities were similarly affected by flash floods which caused increased water turbidity. However, the protests in the city of Isfahan in 2021 were also linked to a river diversion project.

Iran has experienced a prolonged period of overexploitation of water resources as well as a decline in annual precipitation and increases in temperature. Lakes and wetlands in the east of the country have disappeared and climate related internal migration has been increasing. Securing supplies for urban populations as well as for food security is becoming increasingly challenging.