TEHRAN – Iran has struggled with water stress since 2006 and the situation is expected to worsen over the next 15 years, as reforming the irrigation method from traditional to modern will reduce water consumption and waste at least half.
Last week, President Ebrahim Raisi spoke about the problem of water scarcity across the country, calling on all sectors to find a wise and long-term solution to the problem.
Expert studies show that between 70 and 90 percent of the country’s water resources are used annually in the agricultural sector, according to the National Center for Agricultural Research.
Part of this enormous water consumption is linked to the inappropriate cultivation method that has existed for years, regardless of the country’s capacities and priorities. But the other part is the traditional method of irrigation, which is centuries old and still works in many parts of the country, a method that wastes a lot of water and also causes floods and landslides.
Modern irrigation methods have different types including surface irrigation and pressure irrigation.
Some 2.4 million hectares of agricultural land are equipped with pressurized irrigation systems, but this is still a long way from 9 million hectares. Surface irrigation is where water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity. It is by far the most common form of irrigation in the world and has been practiced in many areas with virtually no change for thousands of years.
In pressurized irrigation systems, water is pressurized and precisely applied to plants under pressure through a system of pipes. Pressurized irrigation systems, as opposed to surface irrigation systems, are more efficient at applying irrigation water to crops.
New methods of irrigation (especially drip irrigation) have been introduced to the world since 1950 and entered the Iranian agricultural industry since 1969.
Currently, 2.4 million hectares of agricultural land are equipped with pressurized irrigation systems, but we are still far from reaching the figure of 9 million hectares.
Of 164 hectares of agricultural land, approximately 20 hectares are cultivated.
Since the agricultural sector is the largest and most important consumer of water in Iran, any action is needed to stop the “loss of 80 percent of water resources” which is mainly caused by the lack of use of water resources. advanced irrigation technologies.
On the other hand, one of the problems faced by farmers in changing the method of irrigation is the high cost of its equipment, which apparently the government was supposed to have an 85 percent share in the funding, but up to. ‘now this has not been done.
It seems that the National Water Council, the Center for Strategic Studies, the Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, the Ministries of Energy and Agriculture, with the cooperation of other sectors, can change irrigation methods in less than two years.
In particular, they should address the issue of reforming the irrigation method so that the result is huge savings in annual water consumption and Iranian agriculture and environment is partially out of crisis.
Diminishing water resources
Renewable water resources have declined by 30% over the past four decades, while Iran’s population has increased by about 2.5 times, said Qasem Taqizadeh, deputy energy minister.
A recent report by Nature Scientific Journal on the water crisis in Iran states that from 2002 to 2015, more than 74 billion cubic meters were extracted from aquifers, which is unprecedented and its rebirth takes thousands of years. with urgent action.
Three Iranian scientists studied 30 basins in the country and found that the rate of aquifer depletion over a 14-year period was around 74 billion cubic meters, which was recently published in Nature Scientific Journal.
In addition, overexploitation in 77 percent of Iran has resulted in increased land subsidence and soil salinity. Research and statistics show that the average overdraft of the country’s aquifers was around 5.2 billion cubic meters per year.
Mohammad Darvish, head of the environmental group of the UNESCO Chair in Social Health that the situation of groundwater resources is worrying.
The report notes that Iran’s water consumption has increased due to a significant increase in legal and illegal wells, the expansion of agricultural land and the growing dependence of livelihoods on local people. water and soil resources in agriculture, animal husbandry and poultry, which are mainly caused by human factors. , Darvish noted.
The statistic is unprecedented, because the total reservoirs of all the dams in the country have a capacity of about 50 billion cubic meters; In other words, over the past 14 years, 22 billion cubic meters more than the capacity of all dams have been extracted from the country’s underground sources, he explained.
FB / MG