Tehran faces severe water crisis with reservoirs only 14% full

Tehran faces severe water crisis with reservoirs only 14% full
Rainy day in Tehran. Water resources experts say such days are too few and far between. / S Shahaboddin Vajedi, Fars Media Corp cc-by-sa 4.0
By bne IntelIiNews January 4, 2023

Tehran is confronted by the prospect of a severe water crisis. The Iranian capital’s water management utility has announced that the five key dam reservoirs that serve the city are now only 14% full, Tejarat News reported on January 3.

Resources in the dam reservoirs are rapidly dwindling due to a combination of climate change, resources mismanagement and over-extraction. As a result, Tehran heading into 2023 is experiencing very substantial water shortages. Residents face requests to drastically cut water usage.

According to recent state TV reports, the Latian dam reservoir located northeast of the city is nearly empty following a prolonged drought that has impacted the region for two straight years.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the city’s rapid population growth driving up water demand. The population stands at around 10mn in the city proper and 16mn in Greater Tehran. Available infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the rising demand for water in Tehran, leading to shortages of clean, potable supplies.

The situation has become so dire that the government implements drastic measures to conserve water during summer months. They include limiting water usage in public places, imposing fines on those who use too much water and even shutting off water provision to certain city districts.

The head of the National Center for Climate and Drought Crisis Management, Ahad Tazif, said: "Due to the [insufficient] amount of rainfall, harvesting from wells for Tehran's water supply creates many challenges. There is no supervision on harvesting from the main rivers. At the same time, the authorities are announcing new constructions [for dwellings], which is a gross mistake."

He added: "If we can't improve the situation, at least don't destroy it. This year, we are facing a drought like last year, and the decrease in dam reserves is worse than last year."

The central government has promised to address the water crisis. It has allocated funds for improving the city's water infrastructure including the retrofitting of a sewer system across Tehran to retrieve watershed.

However, it will take time for these measures to have an impact and, in the meantime, the people of Tehran will continue to face the challenges of living in a city without sufficient water.

In many places across Iran, the situation is often described as just as dire. National water monitoring authorities said that by the start of this month, Iran’s water reserves were down to 40% of targeted capacity.

Tazif also said: "The amount of rainfall in the country has not been sufficient to replenish wells, so they are no longer as sustainable as they used to be. If we continue to extract water from these wells without proper replenishment, we will face many challenges in the future."

Next up for Tehran are substantial water shortages likely to afflict the city across the ongoing winter and upcoming spring. Poor rainfall levels are forecast. It’s a dire outlook for city inhabitants also contending with an air pollution crisis that intensifies in frigid winter air. 


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