“Water shortage threatens us more than Israel”… Iran is approaching the “last day”


“We are in a stage of water bankruptcy, and we have passed the stage of the water crisis, because demand and consumption have far exceeded the amount of water available”; An immortal phrase from the head of the Institute for Water, Environment and Health at the United Nations University, the Iranian scientist Kaveh Madani, repeated by many specialists and those interested in the local environment.

Iran suffers from a major water problem, as it is the fourth country, after Qatar, Israel and Lebanon, to be close to the “last day”, the day when water resources may run out, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) report in 2019.

Drying up of rivers, lakes, and marshes (water swamps), lowering of groundwater levels, subsidence of land, destruction of water quality, soil erosion, desertification and dust storms have all been witnessed by the Iranian environment, and the capital, Tehran, is the capital of this escalating crisis.

“We have consumed 120 billion cubic meters of fossil fresh water dating back hundreds of thousands of years, which represents about 75% of the groundwater. This means plundering resources. Today there is no water in the marshes, and the continuation of this situation means depopulation of the country.”

The Ministry of Energy announced in 2021 that half of the village population suffers from the lack of healthy water, which exacerbated the crisis of displacement to cities and living in their suburbs, and the emergence of other social problems.

3 reasons behind water shortage

The researchers emphasized that the country’s fundamental problem in water resources is the result of three reasons: rapid growth and an inappropriate pattern of population settlement, costly agriculture, mismanagement and a thirst for development.

The population of Iran in the nineteenth century was less than 10 million people, and in the eighties of the twentieth century it reached about 35 million people, then in the twenties of the current century it reached about 85 million.

More population density requires more food and other resources, and this increased the production of agricultural products until most of the underground and running water reserves were consumed.

Regarding the second reason, i.e. ineffective or expensive agriculture, statistics indicate that the agricultural sector, which occupies only 12% of the country’s geographical area, consumes about 90% of the water, while agriculture constitutes 10% of the country’s gross national product.

Irrigated agriculture is the dominant method of agriculture in Iran, and it is a decrepit method, as it leads to a sharp decline in productivity in irrigation, so the economic efficiency in water consumption was not high. Also, the cultivation patterns are not compatible with the water availability conditions in many areas.

What exaggerated the role of agriculture in Iran was the politicians’ emphasis on food security and self-sufficiency in foodstuffs until they were exported. This policy caused insecurity in the water sector, and as a result the policy of self-sufficiency failed. However, this policy is still one of the most important files pursued by the government.

As for the third reason, that is, mismanagement and a thirst for development, the authorities’ pursuit since the middle of the last century to develop infrastructure and their fascination with the country’s industrialization project have led to less concern for the long-term environmental impacts.

The structure of the administrative system related to water resources creates in itself opportunities for corruption, not to mention its inefficiency in transforming policies into tangible actions on the ground that are in the interest of resource rationalization.

Loot resources!

“Since the era of the Achaemenids and Sassanids (that is, 2,500 years ago), and even 35 years ago, there was no additional consumption of water resources, but from that period until today we have consumed 120 billion cubic meters of fossil fresh water dating back hundreds of thousands of years. And it represents about 75% of the groundwater. This means the plundering of resources. Today there is no water in the marshes, and the continuation of this situation means evacuating the country from the population.” This was stated by the former Minister of Agriculture and head of the National Foundation for Environmental Conservation, Isa Kalantari, in 2015, and he described the water crisis in Iran as more dangerous than the presence of Israel on the country.


The groundwater level decreases annually by about half a meter on average, as Iran uses three times the global average, according to reports by the Environmental Preservation Foundation, which caused the drying up of about 300 out of 600 Iranian plains.


As for the dilapidated water transmission network, it wasted about 13% of the potable water, according to the reports of the Water and Sewage Company, while household consumption is estimated at about 7% of the available water.

As for the reservoirs of dams, they are empty by 54%, and the average rainfall in the country has decreased by about 10 times from the global average, and the Meteorological Authority has announced that the country’s temperature has risen by two degrees in 2021, and all that drought has contributed to severe damage solutions. the Iranian environment.


As for electricity, its network may face a shortage of about 5,500 megawatts, which caused power cuts in the summer of the past two years, and cut off exports to Iraq.

Also, the main source of the dust storms that have been ravaging Ahwaz, in the southwest of the country, for a decade and a half, is the drying up of an important part of the Hawizah or Great Haur located on the Iranian-Iraqi border, due to the exploration operations carried out by the Iranian Ministry of Oil, according to what environmental experts and officials announced. . This was confirmed by the Meteorological Authority by analyzing monitoring data for the area.

The water crisis and water transfer projects between governorates, especially those that are carried out from the southwest of the country towards the central governorates, have led to popular protests denouncing the government’s water policies.

In addition to the protests that took place in the provinces of Khuzestan (Ahvas), Lorestan, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari, the farmers of Isfahan province protested over the past years against water scarcity and the lack of water allocation for agriculture.

Predictions by some international institutions and institutes show that Iran will reach an average of 500 cubic meters of water per capita by 2050, which would be a very big disaster.

The same is the case in the city of Dashtistan in Bushehr Province overlooking the Gulf, and the city of Kazerun in Fars Province in the south of the country, as well as in the city of Yasuj in the center of the country, and one of the parliamentarians announced in 2019 that the Supreme Council for Water Resources and the Supreme Council for National Security issued orders that legally prevent Dissemination of news of the water crisis in the Iranian media.

It was officially announced years ago that the water crisis has become a security file for the authorities, which is being followed up alongside the specialized institutions.


The disaster is coming

Predictions by some international institutions and institutes show that Iran will reach an average of 500 cubic meters of water per capita by 2050, which would be a very big disaster.

Soil erosion losses have reached $10 billion annually, and ecologists recommend the government to limit the following resources: soil erosion due to natural factors and human interventions, conversion of agricultural lands to urban uses in fertile areas, logging of forests and conversion of forest lands to elephants, and indiscriminate grazing in pastures country.

The coincidence of the international sanctions against Tehran with the escalating water crisis and the destruction of the environment will lead to an increase in dependence on importing crops, livestock and agricultural incomes, and an increase in their prices due to disturbances in foreign trade, and an increase in the prices of hard currencies in Iran.

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