Iran's Karst Water Resources Hold Potential to Alleviate Drought Crisis

Amidst a severe drought caused by mismanagement of groundwater and insufficient rainfall, experts emphasize that Iran's karst water resources could provide the entire water requirement for the country if properly harnessed. Mohammad Reza Espahbod, an authority on groundwater resources, revealed that Iran ranks as the fifth country globally in terms of karst water resources.

Iran (IMNA) - Karst, a well-known geological formation primarily found in carbonate, limestone, and dolomite rocks, serves as a significant aquifer where groundwater accumulates, circulates, and emerges through vital sources. These unique formations cover approximately 12 to 15 percent of the Earth's continental surface and contribute to supplying around 25 percent of the world's population with domestic water.

Abundant Karst Water Resources Found in Zagros Region

It has been reported that the country, particularly in the Zagros region, is blessed with plentiful karst water resources. These resources are found in areas where water can be accessed by digging wells ranging from a minimum depth of 250 meters to a maximum of 500 meters. However, for deeper water sources, wells exceeding one thousand meters in depth are required, as explained by Espahbod.

Currently, the worldwide extraction of water from karst sources amounts to 5,000 liters per second, which is equivalent to 5 cubic meters. It is worth noting that the highest extraction rate is observed in Yugoslavia, according to Espahbod's statement.

Geological Survey Organization Publishes National Atlas of Karst Water Areas, Highlighting Potential for Unconventional Water Resources

Alireza Shahidi, head of the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations Organization, emphasized the significance of identifying karst waters as vital resources. Shahidi announced the publication of the National Atlas of karst water areas, emphasizing the organization's responsibility in this regard.

Shahidi further highlighted the increasing importance of karst water due to climate change and prolonged droughts. He pointed out that karst water, known for its exceptional quality, could serve as an alternative water source.

Referring to studies conducted in the "Kopet Dag" region, Shahidi expressed optimism about the potential to supply a substantial portion of Mashhad's water needs through these studies. However, he expressed concern over the lack of attention given to karst waters, particularly in border areas, which results in their flow to neighboring countries.

Shahidi noted that Turkmenistan, located at the top of the Kopet Dag region, receives karst water from Iran. The issue emphasizes the need for proper management and utilization of these valuable resources within Iran's borders.

Water-rich Saravan Region in Sistan-Baluchestan Province Faces Depletion and Loss of Karst Water Resources

Shahidi expressed his concern over the urgent water crisis in the Saravan region of Sistan-Baluchestan province. Despite being a water-rich area, he lamented that the precious karst water resources are flowing into Pakistan.

The head of the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations Organization further highlighted that several cities in the country rely on karst water, which emerges as springs from the ground. The amount of water flowing through these springs is directly dependent on rainfall levels.

While groundwater resources can be replenished, Shahidi regretted that extracting water from underground reservoirs leads to their gradual depletion. As a result, many aquifers are at risk of drying up, leading to the alarming phenomenon of subsidence.

Iran Faces Water Crisis as Renewable Resources Decrease and Population Grows"

According to Qasem Taqizadeh, the Deputy Minister of Energy, the depletion of karstic waters in calcareous rocks and mountains poses a significant threat. Improper harvesting practices can lead to water drying out, but rainwater can replenish these sources by entering the mountain cavities through pores. However, Taqizadeh emphasized that underground aquifers cannot be regenerated.

Taqizadeh further revealed that renewable water resources have declined by 30 percent in the last four decades, while Iran's population has increased by approximately 2.5 times. These alarming statistics were shared in June, highlighting the pressing need for action.

Adding to the concern, the current water year, starting from September 23, 2020, has experienced the lowest rainfall in 52 years. This dire situation underscores the urgent need to address climate change and acknowledge Iran's arid region as a shared challenge at all levels

Iran's Water Crisis Deepens as Aquifer Depletion Reaches Unprecedented Levels

In a recent report published by Nature Scientific Journal, alarming findings shed light on Iran's worsening water crisis. According to the study conducted by three Iranian scientists, an astounding 74 billion cubic meters of water have been extracted from aquifers between 2002 and 2015, posing significant challenges for its revival that may span thousands of years.

The researchers extensively examined 30 basins across the country, revealing an unprecedented rate of aquifer depletion over a 14-year period. The study's findings have prompted concerns about the sustainability of Iran's water resources and the urgent need for action.

Furthermore, the detrimental impact of over-harvesting is evident in 77 percent of Iran, resulting in severe land subsidence and increased soil salinity. Disturbing research and statistics indicate that the average annual overdraft from the country's aquifers stands at a staggering 5.2 billion cubic meters.

Expressing deep concern, Mohammad Darvish, the head of the environment group in the UNESCO Chair on Social Health, emphasized the worrisome state of Iran's groundwater resources. Urgent measures must be taken to address this critical situation.

Unprecedented Drought Hits Iran as Precipitation Plummets by 60% Compared to Last Year

In a concerning turn of events, Ahad Vazifeh, the head of the national center for drought and crisis management, warned in March that Iran would experience a significant lack of rainfall until the summer's end. Just a month later, Vazifeh announced that several regions of the country were now facing an unprecedented drought.

Recent statistics have revealed a staggering 60% decline in precipitation across Iran during the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-May 21) when compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, this decrease is a stark 41% below the long-term average.

The consequences of this drought are expected to be severe, with groundwater resources under threat unless water consumption is effectively managed. Despite the fact that lakes, rivers, and wetlands in Iran are entitled to environmental water rights, these natural ecosystems often suffer neglect during drought conditions, leaving their water rights unfulfilled.

Drought Conditions in Iran Negatively Impact Water Allocation and Agricultural Practices

In Iran, a country with rainfall levels only one-third of the global average, drought conditions have been a recurring challenge throughout history. These conditions have often resulted in famine. Despite the critical need to prioritize water allocation for rivers and wetlands, the current situation reveals a concerning trend. Instead of being granted to these vital ecosystems, water resources are being directed towards agricultural lands that cultivate water-intensive crops like onions and watermelons. This misallocation of water leads to wastage.

The Ministry of Agriculture, responsible for implementing cultivation patterns, has failed to address this issue effectively. Despite the dry climate, which makes agriculture less sustainable, employment in Iran heavily relies on water-based agriculture. However, a missed opportunity lies in utilizing the untapped potential of tourism and local handicrafts, which could be harnessed even in arid regions. Unfortunately, the country's focus, energy, and capital have predominantly been channeled into agriculture.

News ID 513326


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