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In The Name Of God. An Overview of Water Resources Management in IR of Iran. Water & Wastewater Micro Planning Bureau Ministry of Energy 2012. Contents. 1. Water Resources Potentials and Related Issues 2. Development Procedure of Water Sector

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An Overview of Water Resources Management in IR of Iran

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In The Name Of God

An Overview of Water Resources Management in IR of Iran

Water & Wastewater Micro Planning Bureau

Ministry of Energy



1. Water Resources Potentials and Related Issues

2. Development Procedure of Water Sector

3. Major Challenges and Trends in Iranian Water Resources Management

4. Recent Approaches and Water Policies

5. Conclusion

1. Water Resources Potentials and Related Issues

1.2: World Climate Classification

1.3: Population Growth and Water Scarcity

Based on these unpleasant facts, improving wise water policy strategies that would promote water use efficiency has been put in the priorities of Iran water resources management plans.

1.4: The Available Fresh Water Per Capita

45 years ago: The available fresh water per capita in Iran was ½ of the world average in the early years of 1960

15 years ago: The available fresh water per capital in Iran was 1/3 (one third) of the worlds related average.

In next 20 years: The per capita of available fresh water in Iran would be ¼ (one fourth) of the world’s related average.

Less than 10 years in the future Some parts of the country would be encountered with somehow water crisis conditions.

1.5: Iran Location

I.R. of IRAN

  • Area: 1.648 million km2

  • Population: 75 million

  • No of provinces: 30

  • Average Rainfall: 250 mm

  • Neighboring Countries:

  • Afghanistan, Pakistan, IraqTurkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia,

  • Turkey Saudi Arabia

  • Oman

  • Kuwait

  • Qatar

  • Bahrain

  • U.A.Emirates

1.6 Population Growth and Water Scarcity

The country's population has increased about 8 times during the last 80 years and it has got from 10 millions in 1920 to more than 75 millions in 2012. At present Iran is the 17th most populated countries in the world and based on the data presented in UN it will be classified as one of the 10 most populated regions in the world by the end of 2050. Therefore the need for water has been increased but still the quantity of water is not adequate.

1.7: Precipitation

The average annual precipitation is estimated to be 250 mmand therange varies from 50 mm in some parts of the central water basin to more than 1600 mm in some coastal areas near the Caspian Sea. Meanwhile with respect to the average annual precipitation in the world with average rainfall of more than 830 mm, Iran is classified among the semi-arid and arid countries. Still the main source of water resources throughout the country is annual precipitation.

Precipitation Distribution

Major catchments

Area (*103 Km2)

Caspian Sea


Persian Gulf


Oromieh Lake










1.8 Water Resources Potentials and Related Issues

Six major water basins in IRAN

Major catchment Basins location

1.9 Water Resources Potentials and Related Issues

Rate of precipitation in six major water basins

Rivers & Water Resources


Renewable Fresh Water

Return Water from Consumption


1.11 Water Resources Potentials

According to studies carried out for formulation of the Iran Water Comprehensive Plan, the main characteristics of annual precipitation and its conversion to water resources are shown:

Annual Water Resources in Billion Cubic Meters (BCM)

Total 159

Fresh Water Consumption

At present Iran is using 70% of the total renewable freshwater while due to the international norms the upper limit should be 40% of renewable freshwater; it means that the remain unexploited renewable fresh water is only 30 % total fresh water resources including environmental basic needs.

Water Consumption at a Glance

92.4% of accessible fresh water is used in agricultural activities which is quite far more than the world average of 69-70% use in agricultural activities. Domestic sector uses 6.5 % and industries use only 1.5 % of accessible freshwater.

2. Development Procedure of Water Sector

Elements of Water Management

  • Policy Makers

    • Parliament

    • Supreme Water Council, presided by the President of Iran

  • Governance (Ministry of Energy)

    • Deputy Minister for Water Affairs

      • Iran Water Resources Management Company

      • Water & Wastewater Engineering Company

  • Other Stakeholders

    • Management & Planning Organization

    • Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture

    • Ministry of Industry

    • Mines, Ministry of Urban Development

    • Environmental Protection Organization, …

  • Private Sector

    • 126 Consultant firms

    • 220 Contractors220 Contractors

    • Stackholders & non govermental organisations

What happened in the past?

  • First Book: “the Excavation of Hidden Water” Karadji – about 1000 years ago

  • 50 dams more than 200 yrs old

  • Quanat: the famous underground water system which backs to at least

    2500 years ago


  • Storage and Diversion Dams

  • Irrigation and Drainage Networks

  • Urban Water, Wastewater and Sanitation

  • Hydropower

Hydraulic Structures and Dams

One of the items in Iran's water resources development plan is the control and regulation of water resources through dams. In accordance to the ICOLD identification of large dams, the country has over 220 large dams in operation and also more than 85 dams under construction which totally control over 46.4 billion cubic meters of country's water resources.

ICOLD: International Committee of Large Dams


Under Operation


Under Construction

Development Procedure of Urban Water & Wastewater Sector

In order to ensure sustainable development and social welfare in Iran it is essential to construct infrastructures, particularly those related to water supply and sanitation. Establishment of suitable water and wastewater installations throughout cities and villages, plays a fundamental role in national improvement of hygienic conditions as well as promotion of public welfare. At present more than 99.4 percent of Iran’s population is covered by urban water and wastewater services.

Irrigation & Drainage Networks

Under Operation

  • Number of IDN: 50

  • Area under command (million ha):1.9


  • Number of IDN:82

  • Area under command (million ha):1.4




Urban Population Access to Potable Water (Percent)



Rural Population Access to Potable Water (Percent)

Less than 24


Availability of Potable Water for Urban and Rural Population


  • Installed Capacity7400 MW

  • Under Construction 4500 MW

  • Potential Capacity 26000 MW


Energy Production Rates in 2020


growth trend of hydropower installing capacity in Iran

3. Major Challenges and Trends

in Iranian Water Resources Management

3. Major Challenges and Trends in Iranian Water Resources Management

  • Unbalance sequence between demand and supply of water resources

  • Excessive withdrawal of groundwater resources

  • Demand Management in accordance to priorities set in the National Water Plan

  • Assessment of total value and cost of water relevant to each basin

  • Pollution of water resources and its economic and environmental consequences

  • Efficiency in water irrigation systems

  • Risk Management of water related natural disaster ( i.e. drought and flood )

  • Implementation of National Integrated Water Resources Management

  • Efficient and equitable water price for various uses

  • Land use planning

  • Unaccounted for water (UFW)

Water Demand

Water Consumption Vision

90 million


Consumption increase due to urbanization and improved welfare

We need 30 bcm more water

How We Can Prepare More Fresh Water in Future

  • Improvement Water efficiency

  • Increasing the Storage Capacity

  • Modern Water Harvest Methods

  • Water & Wastewater Recycle


Drought Prone Regions:

Probability that annual rainfall falls below 75% of the long-term mean rainfall

DROUGHT WORK IN IRAN: meteorological analyses

Mapping Drought Characteristics

4. Recent Approaches in Water Policies

4. Recent Approaches and Water Policies

In order to solve the challenges Iran has developed some important and strategic plans which are as follow:

  • Promotion of Private Investment in Water Projects

  • Long-Term Development Strategies for Iran's Water Resources

  • Creation of Water Related Councils

  • Strengthening Scientific and Practical Skills and Potentials

  • Promotion of sustainable development and environmental views in water resources management

  • The 5th Development Program of the Country-Water Sector


In order to reduce the disadvantages we need to follow our solution methods based on national integrated water resources management within the body of our government as a whole and through public participation, support of NGOs and international organizations.


A comprehensive study( Master plan )of how to adopt and accommodate the “Socio-economic development plans” contents particularly water related sectors with arid and semi arid climate; Through country’s 30 river basins integrated water resources management ( IWRM )

Establishment of a long term balanced between water supply and water demand, and among the use sectors and stakeholders in each river basin.

Hope to specify the real obstacles and problems and find the way of solutions.

Dimensions & Expected Outcomes




Demand Management



Sustainable Exploitation From the Natural Resources and Environment in the basis of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)

  • Coexisting between human and environment in harmony for a better welfare

  • -

Sustainable Development of Hydro Projects


Environmental Considerations of projects

  • The long-term development strategies are on the basis of IWRM deserve to respond:

  • Economic efficiency

  • Water for food and social security

  • Water for environment and sustainable development

  • In addition to executing development plans & supplying water through dams construction, considerations of IWRM, EIA and sustainable development should be taken into attention.

How to Reach?

Long-term Development Strategy

Some important points :

Macro management

  • Water management must be based on:

  • supply and demand management

  • integrated consideration of water cycle

  • principles of sustainable development

  • land use planning in national and trans-boundary basins

  • to realize water resources integrated management, various economic, social, infrastructural and service sectors must be coordinated with water sector.

Long-term Development Strategy

Some important points :

Water Resources Management

The utilization of Iran’s water resources in each basin must be planned in such a way that the volume of the utilized underground water does not exceed the present utilized volume considering their tolerance.

Therefore, structural and nonstructural actions must be taken to meet people’s new demands to the extent that the utilized share of surface water resources increases from the present 46 percent to 55 percent within the coming 20 years and meets the need ofnatural environment.

Long-term Development Strategy

Some important points :

Demand Management

The water consumption pattern in Iran must be performed in such a way that the agricultural water consumption share will be reduced from the present 92 percent to 87 percent by the coming 20 years while doubling water consumption efficiency of 1 m3 by enhancing irrigation efficiency and allocating to more economically valuable crops.

New water allocation priorities will be drinking and environment, industry and service, and gardening and agriculture respectively.

Long-term Development Strategy

Some important points :

Economic Value

Iran water management must consider the economic value of water, including its intrinsic value in every basin and the value of investment in supplying, transferring, distributing and recycling water to be consumed in various sectors.

Long-term Development Strategy

Some important points :

Quality control

The management of the activities of various water consumers must be applied in such a way to control water pollution resulting from the consumers activities and develop water quality gradually. Water consumers have to consider the national standards of water resources quality conservation and sewage disposal system to achieve this goal.

Thank you for your attention

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