Drinking water crisis in Iran

Drinking water crisis in Iran
One wonders why people living in provinces such as Khuzestan, located next to the largest river in Iran and cities bordering bodies of sea, are struggling with a shortage of drinking water and thirst.

According to a report aired on an Iraqi TV channel, Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Javad Zarif had negotiations with Iraq last year on exporting Khuzestan’s water to Basra. The event was not carried by Iranian news agencies and Iranians were unaware of it until the al-Baladi TV station covered it. A number of amateur videos were also published online showing large pipes carrying fresh water to Iraq.

It is under these circumstances that Iranians have to buy bottled potable water from various companies. It’s not clear where these companies provide their water from and why the government can’t use this water source to bring fresh water into its customers’ homes. These are customers who are paying taxes to use municipal services including water and according to the law are the rightful owners of water as one of the main public resources in the country.

According to Iran’s Shia clerics, water is incorporated in what is known as the “Anfal”, which is the property at the disposal of the people, and cannot be owned by a specific group.

Nevertheless, reports indicate that a number of government officials have dug deep multi-million dollar wells to extract fossil water, which actually belongs to future generations, and are selling the water to the people.

According to official statistics, around 334 cities from the 1,157 cities in Iran are struggling with a water shortage.

On April 24, IRNA state-run News Agency, wrote an article titled, “Water crisis seriously threatens national security”, citing shocking figures.

“According to the Ministry of Energy, 165 cities with a population of 5.10 million people are in the yellow zone, 62 cities with a population of 8.6 million are in the orange zone while 107 cities with 2.17 million people are in the red zone in terms of water shortages”.

“In total, 334 cities are struggling with a water shortage”, the state-run news agency wrote.

In another report, ISNA state-run News agency wrote on August 8 that the Head of the Water and Sewage Company announced that “88% of the dams in the country tasked with providing potable water are unsuitable”, adding that 46 dams were in critical condition.

“According to Hamidreza Janbaz, 15% of the rural population did not have access to quality potable water. He also pointed to a water shortage in 107 cities adding that these cities were mostly over populated and that currently 17million people were subject to water shortage”.

Despite the fact that state-run media have a tendency to whitewash the truth, these figures show that the current water crisis in Iran, which stems from the government’s systematic incompetence and mismanagement, has spread to a large number of cities and villages in Iran.

Gathered reports from only a few cities in Iran show the actual scope of the water crisis in Iran.

Residents of many parts of Iran use drinking water with a salinity of 450 to 500 micrometers. But although 30 percent of the current and flowing waters of Iran flow through Khuzestan, water salinity in the province’s cities is three times the water standard in other parts of Iran.
The tap water that is available to the people of the province is contaminated and unsuitable.
People in the cities and villages of this province are forced to buy drinking water from private water tankers. Reports indicate that people have to wait in long lines to buy water from these tankers.

The villagers in Bandar-e Mahshahr use raw drinking water (unfiltered water). The residents say that strange diseases have spread in the village and despite the fact that they boil the water, it still tastes bad. Reports indicate that many people suffer from kidney stone pain, while Ahvaz’s hospitals are filled with patients suffering from diarrhea and intestinal infections.

Residents of Khorramshahr continue to suffer from a lack of water and water salinity. According to a resident of this city, 30 adjacent villages also suffer from a water shortages and water salinity.

condition of drinking water in Ahvaz

Image shows condition of drinking water and water purification filters in Ahvaz

An amateur video also shows a boy from Shatit Village near Shatt al-Arab (Arvandroud) who rides his bike every day in 50 degrees Celsius temperatures to the river to collect water for his family.

“We collect water for bathing, washing clothes and drinking from Shatt al-Arab because the tap water has been cut off for some time now”, he says.

In another video, a man explains the water crisis in Abadan saying that the state of many villages in the province was critical and that it had been more than three years that they buy water in plastic jerry cans. He says that the lives of people living in the area had been destroyed.

During last month (July) in Ramhormoz, more than 250 people were poisoned as a result of raw and unprocessed water entering their home water pipes. Local sources say most were children ant that two children died in the hospital as a result.
In another case, more than 50 people living in Rafi city, in Hoveyzeh County, were poisoned after using contaminated water from a river since they lacked drinking water.
Reports also indicate that the head of the health center in Ahvaz announced that there was an increase in diarrhea cases in the city of Rafi adding that it was the result of a “microbial contamination in the water network”.
The head of the health center also said that more than 25 people suffered from “bloody diarrhea.”


Chah Bahar County, Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Mehr state-run News Agency, May 31, 2018
Einoldin Sa’idi, Chabahar City Council Chief, said that “90% of the villages in the Chabahar coastal strip lacked water networks” and that people received water via water tankers.

“Only 21 percent of the population of 300,000 people in Chabahar has access to the water network, which is not continuous. The waters of Chabahar have been rationed for decades now, and sometimes some neighborhoods do not have water for weeks”, he added.

“Currently, 467 villages in Chabahar are mostly provided water with tankers”, the City Council Head added.

In Chabahar’s coastal villages such as Beris and Pasabandar with a population of 6,000 people, which are important for the country in terms of the fishing industry, not even a meter of piping has been installed. Each person is allowed only 15 liters of water, and still there is not enough water to go around. Most of the tankers are broken down and people only get 10 liters on a daily basis. The 10 liters has to be used for washing, drinking and livestock. Water is provided once every week to the people and they are forced to store it in unsanitary containers. In many areas, villagers receive water once a month.

People who live on the fringes of Chabahar have to buy water. In some villages people have to pay up to 200,000 tomans (around $40) for one tanker.

“The water crisis in Chabahar is different from other parts of the country, that is, if we are facing a water crisis everywhere, the situation is catastrophic in Chabahar”, Einoldin Sa’idi added.


Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province

ILNA state-run News Agency – May 18, 2018

According to Hatam Payam, a member of the Boyer Ahmad City Council, 60,000 people in Madavan-e Olya and Yasuj only have running potable water for two hours every day.


South Khorasan Province

The villagers in South Khorasan face a crisis called thirst, and the 16 year drought has brought severe hardships for the people.  Iran Drought Crisis
Currently, supplying drinking water to a large number of villages is problematic, and more than 58,000 villagers in the province have yet to receive a sip of water, while the drought adds to the number of villages in need of a mobile water supply every day.
In a report titled, “Drought slaps the faces of children in Darmian”, ISNA state-run News Agency wrote about a skin disease outbreak in the village. The report goes into detail about the hardships people are facing in the region as a result of a lack of water.



ISNA state-run News Agency – May 31, 2018

The Managing Director of Kerman’s Rural Water and Wastewater Company said that 705 villages in the province received water via tankers adding that the number of villages was expected to increase to 2,000 by summer.

“According to the inspections carried out by the Rural Water and Wastewater Company, 849 villages, with a total population of 548,000 people, who have water networks, are facing water shortages. To solve the water supply problem to the villages, we have to provide water via tankers or renting agricultural water wells”, he said.

“We need 38 billion, 800 million tomans (around $793,358) to do this”, Ali Rashidi added.


Sistan and Baluchestan

According to a parliament member from Iranshahr, 3,000 villages in Sistan and Baluchistan do not have a running potable water network system.

“Water is supplied with tankers for 1,200 villages in Sistan and Baluchestan”, Mohammad Naeem Aminifard said in an interview carried by the ISNA News Agency.
Reports indicate that people in this province live in severe hardship as a result of the water shortage.
Currently, more than 3,000 villages in Sistan and Baluchestan, with a total population of 347,000 people, do not have any water supplying infrastructure, and the water of these villages is provided by tankers. There are no guarantees that these tankers will supply water to the people on a daily basis.

The people of Sirkan are also suffering from thirst. They only have an hour of running water every three or four days and that is only if the tankers get there on time.



Tabnak state-run Website – April 25, 2018

Tehran’s water reserves are currently at the lowest possible level.

“It’s expected that this year, the inflows of our dams will be about 400 million cubic meters, and the flow rate of our waters will be reduced by nearly 700 million cubic meters”, the head of the Tehran’s Water Company said.

“If the current trend continues until 2019, surely water will be rationed”, he added.

On the outskirts of Tehran, in deprived neighborhoods (60% of Tehran’s regions and surrounding areas have the lowest level of prosperity and development) people suffer from drinking water shortages. The Qaleh-ye Now Chaman Zamin is one of those areas and has salty water.
“The most important problem that people face in the region is the issue of drinking water,” the head of the Regional Health Office said.

“The main problem is the water, which has a bad taste”, he added.

People in the neighborhood, have to buy water or get water via tankers like in war-torn areas.


Golestan province

IRNA state-run News Agency – May 30, 2018

The northern province of Golestan, which was once considered an area with many water sources is now suffering from drought.

“Due to a lack of resources, drinking water for 110 villages in the province with a population of 44,849, is provided with tankers”, the Director of the Golestan Rural Water and Wastewater Company said.
“By summer, 171 other Golestan villages with a total population of 181,155 people will be affected by water shortages and will be added to the villages that need tankers for water supply”, Alireza Shakibaie added.



ISNA state-run News Agency – Mar. 12, 2018

There are challenges in providing drinking water to the five million people of Isfahan province.

Groundwater resources in Isfahan, used for drinking water in the province, are depleting. Currently, only 160 million cubic meters of drinking water remain behind the dam, while the annual consumption of drinking water in Isfahan is about 420 million cubic meters.


The situation in Kermanshah is more severe than other regions as the people are still suffering from the aftermath of a large earthquake which struck eight months. Temperatures in the province are also more than 50 degrees Celsius with people waiting in long lines to buy water from tankers. Earthquake victims, many of whom still live in tents after eight months face many hardships.

The water in Sarpol Zahab is completely unsanitary and not drinkable in many areas. And even that water is cut off for many hours during the day and the government does nothing to solve this issue.

For example in the Kuik-e Hasan, there is no water even for the minimum domestic and basic hygiene needs.



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