Water has been a dominant issue throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Historically Iran has found themselves better off than most in the region with higher rates of annual rainfall and larger groundwater reserves. However, after years of mismanagement and unsustainable development Iran is currently in the midst of one of it’s worst water crisis ever. This crisis has the potential to make almost the entire country uninhabitable.
Like many countries in the region Iran is dominated by desert. This desert region found in the south and central areas of the country have little access to water and little rainfall. This is compared to the Caspian region and western Iran which experiences greater rainfall and has access to river sources.
These river sources, the tributaries of the Tigris are experiencing extremely low water levels due mainly to overuse of water in unsustainable agricultural practices as well as the wasting of water in modernizing development. Additionally, groundwater sources have been severely depleted beyond repair.
Further, while the north and western portions of Iran experience much greater rates of rainfall per year this rain comes in seasonal wet and dry periods. The lack of consistent rainfall throughout the year poses a problem as reservoirs are only replenished half of the year.
The dwindling sources of water has become an ever growing issue in Iran as population has skyrocketed since the 1979 Revolution.
So what’s the future?
Currently Iran is implementing the use of desalination plants along the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. This however, only benefits those in the immediate proximity of the treatment plants as it is too expensive to transport the water. There have recently been projects to pipe water to stop the desertification of central Iran.
The only real solution to Iran’s problem is to implement severe restrictions on water usage as well as the use of sustainable measures. This includes a restructuring of the agricultural industry to ensure water is used efficiently, further the water that is available must be recycled and reused in order to ensure this resource is available in the future.