Iran’s government admits that the country will face a serious water crisis this summer, putting 37 million people at risk of dehydration over the summer.
Iran’s vice minister of energy for water announced Wendesday that several of the country’s major cities will have a water crisis this summer and that little could be done to prevent it. The minister pointed out that Iran’s per-capita water consumption is nearly twice the global average. The crisis has been largely caused by improper use of groundwater resources, a rapidly growing population, and decades of mismanagement by the government.
“Iran’s environmental issues are getting worse, and they’re a serious political problem,” John Gay, an editorial staffer at The National Interest who covers Iran, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The real question is how much worse they can get before they start becoming a stability problem, too.”
The water issues are already harming stability, as Iranian farmers began protesting over water rights earlier this month, according to the Iranian branch of the American-funded Radio Liberty. The Iranian government heavily subsidizes the water its farmers uses and needs to halve its annual water consumption to be sustainable and 92 percent of water in Iran is used for agricultural purposes.
Rainfall in Iran generally only occurs between October and March, leaving the land parched for the remainder of the year. Iran has been suffering the consequences of this environmental situation for its entire history, but the country’s system of dams has decayed for decades, causing a water crisis in 2014 and last year. The crisis got so bad that it escalated to the point that many Iranians were forced to migrate to other parts of the country.
“Our water usage is twice the world standard, and considering the situation in our country, we have to reduce this level,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of Iran’s environmental department, said in 2014 speech.
In 2014, Iran was using 70 percent of its total renewable freshwater, far above the upper limit of 40 percent recommended by scientists. As a result, the country’s lakes are rapidly shrinking a slow rolling environmental crisis is brewing.
The same scientists estimate that 37 million Iranians could face dehydration and that the country’s agricultural industry will be seriously disrupted.
“In less than 50 years, we’ve used all but 30 percent of our groundwater supply, which took a million years to gather, and it’s getting worse and worse due to unsustainable development,” Nasser Karami, an Iranian physical climatologist who is an associate professor at the University of Bergen in Norway, told The Washington Post.
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