A million wells that depleted water resources
A million wells that depleted water resources
Considering the current situation of water scarcity, the experts’ warnings of two decades ago about the occurrence of a water crisis have come to pass and there is no way to solve it except with the help of universities and scientific institutions.

TEHRAN (Iran News) –Considering the current situation of water scarcity, the experts’ warnings of two decades ago about the occurrence of a water crisis have come to pass and there is no way to solve it except with the help of universities and scientific institutions.

Over 23 years have passed since the beginning of Iran’s first water shortage crisis (after the Islamic Revolution) in 2000. It was for the first time in the history of Iran that the Sistan Plain and Hamoun Lake dried up.

At that time, few people thought that this situation could continue and slowly spread to other provinces, but the speed of the water scarcity crisis in Iran was so high that in two decades, the most water-rich province of the country (Khuzestan) was highly affected, as well as Isfahan, Kerman, etc.

According to published reports, Shahrekord, the capital of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, which was home to the most abundant river in the Central Plateau of Iran, faced a water cut for more than 10 days at the end of this summer (September 22). Moreover, West Azarbaijan and Hamadan provinces spent hot summer days by distributing water with tankers.

Although the hot season is over and more rains occurred in the first half of November in most parts of the country, this amount of rain does not in any way indicate the elimination of the risk of water shortage in the country, and solutions to overcome the crisis should be seriously considered.

But what really caused Iran to suddenly face such crises in less than 5 decades, even though it was among semi-desert countries and had more than 2,500 years of written history, and was known as the oldest civilization in the world? Investigating the roots of this situation can be at least a step to correcting and compensating for the lost resources.

 Unbalanced development plans

Until the 1970s, development was considered an economic phenomenon only, and it was often assumed that economic growth would bring greater economic equality and that this equality would destroy poverty, a researcher, Amirhossein Gholamzadeh Natanzi wrote, IRNA reported on Saturday.

Therefore, in 1957, they defined growth or development as an increase in the per capita production of goods. But in 1975, UNESCO stated that development should be integrated and should be a comprehensive and multifaceted process that includes all aspects of social life, its relations with the outside world, and conscience and awareness. This meaning of development required an “adjustment process”.

What has been noticed about the concept of development today is that one should look at development in a comprehensive and balanced way and consider all its economic, political, and social aspects. These dimensions of three sides become a triangle, each of which has no meaning without the other, and because man is the central factor of development, he has a multi-dimensional reality and has countless desires, needs, and abilities, development will also be multi-dimensional and not just a one-dimensional approach on economic development. In this way, balanced development means that economic, political, and social dimensions should be taken into account in the development and progress of a society.

On the other hand, it is “unbalanced development” which means promoting or valuing one of these three dimensions too much without paying attention to the others.

Which unbalanced programs led to drought exacerbation?

The emergence of industries without considering climate resilience is one of the most important reasons for the advent of drought and in other words the change in the country’s climate. More importantly, programs, many of which started before 1979, and many others launched much faster in the 1990s-2010s.

For example, 47,000 wells were dug in the country until 1971 to exploit the underground water resources and as a result to develop the agricultural and industrial sectors and increase the per capita income of the country. This number reached a shocking number of 162,000 wells in the 1980s, increasing about 3.5 times.

The increasing number of wells in 1990 surpassed 225,000, and it is still increasing despite the drought, amounting to 450,000 in 2002; and 736,000 in 2012.

According to experts’ predictions, wells has exceeded one million by 2022. Although, this is the number of legal wells across the country and the number of illegal ones is much more than what is shown in these statistics.

Considering these figures and the country’s area, it shows that in 50 years, one well has been dug for every 1.6 square kilometers.

Also, despite the land subsidence, which has turned into a sinkhole in some cases (Kaboodar Ahang in Hamadan and Eij in Fars province), they are still trying to dig wells to solve the problem of water scarcity and supply drinking water.

Considering the ratio of wells per square kilometer in the country, it can be realized that the country’s surface is not able to hold water, not even can bear this volume of construction, and many parts of the country can be swallowed up at any moment.

Even Tehran is subsiding up to 24 centimeters every year, which is horrible.

The next unbalanced program is the excessive development of water industries and the cultivation of agricultural products in desert areas. Unfortunately, under the pretext of employment and entrepreneurship as well as achieving self-sufficiency, industries were established in the country, which greatly fueled the decline of water resources and exacerbated the water crisis of the country.

For example, there are 212 steel and iron smelting factories with the highest water consumption, most of which are located in the desert and water-scarce areas of the country, such as Isfahan, Yazd, Razavi Khorasan, Tehran, East Azerbaijan, Kerman, etc. Such a situation can be considered in the case of tile-making, and stone-cutting industries.

Water-intensive agriculture

According to the studies, 1,300 liters of water is used to produce one kilogram of wheat.

According to the latest figures of wheat production with irrigated cultivation in the crop year 2018-2019, which was the second most produced crop in the country after fodder corn, it is estimated at 8.3 million tons, which is very huge.

Self-sufficiency in the production of wheat and rice is exactly like a fire that is being extinguished by gasoline.

Now is the time when all the warnings of experts two decades ago have come true, and maybe there is still a way to compensate, which can only be obtained from the heart of scientific activities and programs and the opinion of academic experts.

  • source : Tehrantimes