The plan to transfer water from Caspian Sea to the drought-hit central plateau has been called off due to its potential negative environmental effects.
“Inter-basin transfer has never been an effective solution anywhere in the world and therefore, the plan has been dropped,” said Parvin Farshchi, the deputy for marine environments at the Department of Environment, told the Persian daily Ettela’at.
The plan to transfer water through a 180-kilometer pipeline from Mazandaran Province to Semnan Province was seriously considered as a solution to meet the growing water demand in the agricultural, industrial and household sectors of the water-stressed province.
Critics, however, argued that pumping water from Caspian Sea would eventually lead to an increase in the sea’s salinity and endanger the habitats it supports.
They also said the pipeline would run through the Hyrcanian forests, necessitating the felling of trees in the ecologically-rich woodlands, which Iran hopes to inscribe on the World Heritage List in 2019. Some experts argued that given the low population of Semnan Province (approx. 600,000), there are less costly and more efficient ways of addressing the issue of water shortage, arguing that there are also “geopolitical factors” behind the push for building the expensive pipeline.
DOE officials always maintained that the plan was not environmentally justifiable.
However, dismissing arguments made by critics of the scheme, namely Massoumeh Ebtekar—the head of DOE, Parviz Kardovani, who is a prominent academic and eremologist (expert on deserts), claims that the plan “is one of the most feasible and financially-viable projects “.
Rain water harvesting, judicious water use (especially in the agro sector), promoting modern irrigation techniques, recycling wastewater, separating potable water from wastewater and implementing watershed plans are among measures suggested by experts to help conserve water.