Iran is facing the risk of "critical" water shortages if the country does not dramatically cut water use, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian declared in a speech to the Iranian parliament.
Citing several years of drought, climate change and increased population, Chitchian told legislators on Sunday that usage needed to drop by by 40%. Average annual rainfall had fallen from 250 mm to 242 in the preceding decade, while the country's "renewable" water reserves had dropped from 130 to 120 billion cubic meters, Jaam-e Jam, the newspaper of the state broadcaster, reported.
The effects of climate change have been mounting in Iran, most of whose territory is either desert or prone to desertification. The Minister noted that there were 4,000 liters of water per head in Iran at the time of the 1979 revolution, a ration which has since dropped to 1,700 liters. Iran's population has more than doubled in this same period from around 30 million to more than 70 million, though the rate of increase has slowed in recent years.
With marshlands and underground waters drying up, Chitchian said, more farmers were striking wells illegally, which exacerbated shortages. Some 6,500 villages or rural districts receive their water by truck.
The newspaper also cited Khosrow Erteqai, head of the local water agency in Tehran, as saying the capital was facing its worst water shortage in 46 years. Ertegai said increasing population and a construction boom were partly to blame, but the bigger problem was wastefulness.
"Right now in Tehran water consumption is twice the global norm," he said. Some people he added, used "four to 4.5 liters of water" for their ablutions before prayers — of which there are a five a day.
"You can do your ablutions with half a liter," Ertegai said.
— Ahmad Shayegan
Photo: Bai Yu/Xinhua/ZUMA