Read the full profile
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Prospects for agricultural water management
The Water Resources Management Policy emphasizes an integrated approach in water resources development to maximize positive impacts and avoid or minimize any negative effects of irrigation development. Based on the country’s perspective on water resources, in order to control the overexploitation of groundwater resources, the surface water withdrawal percentage should change from 43 percent at the present to 55 percent. In addition, the country aims at decreasing the agricultural share from 92 percent to 87 percent by increasing water use efficiency. Water productivity is expected to increase from 0.7 kg/m3 to 1.4 kg/m3 over the next 20 years. The country plans to develop irrigation for another 1.76 million ha in the next 20 years.
The increasing water shortage in the country has forced many decision-making bodies to consider the reuse of effluent as an appealing option. Among the recent decisions taken by the Expediency Council were the adoption and implementation of general plans for recycling water nationwide. The proposed policies and strategies are as follows (Mahmoodian, 2001):
- Fully satisfy the drinking water demand potential from freshwater, prior to any other use.
- Guarantee future urban water demands by replacing the agricultural water rights to using freshwater (from brooks, rivers, springs well, etc.) with using treated effluents.
- Avoid the use of high quality urban water to create green spaces, and instead allot low quality water for this purpose.
- Cut off water supply to industries which have not taken practical measures for treating and reusing their wastewater.
- Expand research projects for the establishment of reasonable standards for the safe and reliable reuse of wastewater. Replacing freshwater with treated effluents in agriculture necessitates introducing farmers to the positive and economic advantages of using wastewater, and consequently convincing them to exchange freshwater with effluents. This in itself requires research and study on the sanitary, economic and environmental impacts of using wastewater for agriculture and the artificial recharging of groundwater resources.