Some "two million fish" were found dead and floating in a water reserve outside Tehran, possibly poisoned by untreated sewage that had been seeping in for months, the semi-official ISNA agency reported Wednesday.

Mohsen Showkati, head of the environmental office of the district of Reyy where the Fashafuyeh dam was located, blamed waste waters from the nearby Vavan estate, which lacks sewage systems. Its treatment facilities were only "60% complete," because of budget shortfalls, he said.

Showkati said the dam was used for aquaculture, irrigation and provided water for livestock, but was also connected to traditional wells. Its waters, he added, were now entirely polluted and "useless."

Showkati revealed that the Vavan estate "previously mixed its sewage with a water canal," which diluted the dirty waters flowing indirectly into Fashafuyeh. "Recently with the interruption of this water canal, raw sewage has entered directly [...] causing an environmental calamity in the area."

Authorities say they had cleared "30 tons" of dead fish from the lake, with legal action expected against local administrators.

Sewage treatment s still largely undeveloped in Iran, with the capital only beginning to install systems in the late 1980s or later. It is unclear where progress stands even as the city continues to grow beyond eight million residents.

Beside sewage, Iran has a rudimentary waste disposal system, consisting basically of dumping trash underground. A deputy-head of the state Environmental Protection Organization, Sa'id Motessadi was cited as saying on April 22 just the country's coastal provinces — on the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf — produced 14,000 tons of trash every day, of which only 10% was separated at source. The vast majority was buried he said, with a consequent shortage of dumping grounds in coastal areas, the daily Shahrvand reported.

— Ahmad Shayegan

(photo of Tehran by Ninara)