DOE awaits effective water management

Financial Tribune- Isa Kalantari, the head of the Department of Environment, expressed strong confidence in the recently appointed Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian for implementing effective water policies.

DOE has recently been assigned with four major tasks by President Hassan Rouhani, namely air pollution in metropolises, waste management, especially in the northern provinces, controlling dust storms originating from domestic sources and supplying the water rights of Iran’s desiccating wetlands. It has been tasked with preparing a report for the government at the end of the administration’s tenure in 2021.

Speaking to ISNA, Kalantari, who doubles as vice president, said he is sure that the new Energy Ministry will cooperate in carrying out the fourth task, as Ardakanian’s practical ideas about water management are very close to his own.

“In his decisions about water plans, [I expect] he will not sacrifice the environment’s water rights for agriculture nor for drinking water. He believes that water is as important for the environment as it is for drinking water and more important than it is for farming purposes,” he said.

Ardakanian holds a PhD in water resource management from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and has held both national and international positions involving water management.

He was the coordinator of the UN-Water Task Force entrusted with planning and organizing the new water decade. He has been on the boards of various international programs and organizations such as UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program, UNESCO’s Institute for Water Education and the International Hydropower Association. He has also served as deputy minister for water affairs.

His relevant educational and occupational background has raised hopes about the amelioration of critical conditions facing the country’s water resources.

In his plans, Ardakanian has given top priority to water management. His first goal is to prepare a comprehensive water document and have it approved by the government and the parliament.

“Restoring and balancing groundwater resources, reducing withdrawals by 8 billion cubic meters, establishing a national Water Accounting System, reforming water economy and involving the private sector in wastewater management projects are among my proposed plans regarding water,” he said last week. Kalantari said he is almost completely confident that Adakanian will fulfill his commitments.

“Although he does not directly target conservation of the Nature, he is fully aware that if the environment is not preserved, no water will be left for other purposes,” he said.

The water right for the country’s wetlands and rivers was determined at 11.8 billion cubic meters by the High Council for Water two years ago, of which 2.6 billion cm pertain to Lake Urmia, 1.8 billion cm to Karoun River and 175 million cm for Gavkhouni Wetland.

Nevertheless, several environmentalists are opposed to the volume and believe more has to be allocated to natural ecosystems.

Kalantari also stressed that expecting a sudden rise in precipitation would be too optimistic, therefore, the existing resources must be managed efficiently.

“It has been 40 days since the start of the new water year (Sept. 23) and certain provinces have received less than half a millimeter of rainfall, which is almost equal to zero,” he said.