Locals in Khuzestan have built tanks or concrete basins in their homes to collect rainwater to meet their basic needs. (IranWire)

October 5, 2021

An MP representing two major cities in Khuzestan has said water crisis is still blighting the province, telling officials at a meeting on Sunday: “In Abadan and Khorramshahr, we supply people with sewer water.”

Ahmad Laftehnejad emphasized that his comments were to be taken literally, saying his constituents were “facing all kinds of diseases and skin reactions” due to consuming dirty water. He called for an increase in his cities’ share in water supply projects, adding: “We have no such thing as water development projects in Abadan and Khorramshahr. For the past 32 years there has been no plan to resolve water shortages in these two cities, and that needs to be investigated.”

The MP’s remarks were published by the official media outlets of the Islamic Republic. Local sources told IranWire that some neighborhoods in the port city of Mahshahr are facing similar shortages, as are surrounding villages. The Mahshahr Port Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has told them piped water will be cut off from October 10 until further notice.

Despite the abundance of rivers and plains, Khuzestan has suffered from intermittent water shortages for decades. Many city and village residents alike cannot count on a regular supply of safe piped water to their homes, nor to agricultural land, all year round. This year the drought was so severe that thousands of people took to the streets to protest in July. At least a dozen were killed by security forces and hundreds more were detained.

Nine days after the protests began, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared the people of Khuzestan had “expressed their grief” but were not “complaining”. He also claimed yet again that “enemy conspiracies” had stoked public discontent, adding: “They shouldn’t be given an excuse.” In the aftermath, Iranian journalists from state-controlled media outlets were dispatched to Khuzestan to announce a “resolution”: the dams were to be opened, allowing water to flow to villages downstream of the Karun River and near the Hur al-Azim wetlands.

But residents told IranWire the shortages have continued. On October 30, the director of the Khuzestan Water and Electricity Organization also confirmed the issue was ongoing, because dams in Khuzestan were only about seven percent full, while the Dez dam was at about five percent capacity. Farhad Izadjoo added that based on the weather forecast for autumn, Khuzestan could end up with a province-wide seasonal shortage of 2.6 billion cubic meters of water.

Tasnim News Agency meanwhile pessimistically quoted Minister of Energy Ali Akbar Mehrabian, who was present at the Khuzestan Water and Sewerage Survey, regarding the Ghadir water project: a decade-old effort to supply more water to parts of Khuzestan including Abadan and Khorramshahr. It called the Raisi administration “the successor of this semi-finished project, on which very little has progressed”, concluding: “May we see rainy years, with God’s care.”

The Minister of Energy, for his part, said: “Ten years ago, I was in charge of the country’s master plans… I came to Ahvaz city’s [water] treatment plant in early 1992, and it was almost the same as it is now; maybe there have been slight changes since then.”

Iran Wire

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.