The annual processing capacity of wastewater treatment plants in Iran has surpassed 2 billion cubic meters, of which 50% are used in agriculture, industries and municipalities.
As water shortage has reached critical levels, more farmers and industrialists are willing to tap into unconventional resources to meet demand.
Hashem Amini, deputy for supervision and planning at the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa), made the statement on the sidelines of the 18th International Water and Wastewater Exhibition that opened at Tehran’s International Fairground on Dec. 30, IRNA reported.
Giving a breakdown, he noted that of the total annual reclaimed sewage output (2 bcm), farmers, industrialists and municipalities use close to 720 million cubic meters, 290 mcm and 65 mcm per annum respectively and the uptrend is expected to continue.
Amini said industries and farmers will sign more contracts with Abfa, as acute water shortage has pushed both the agro sector and industrial units over the edge and they cannot meet their demand anymore.
Abfa covers around 9 million households and the length of pipelines to collect sewage across the nation has surpassed 72,000 kilometers, he added.
The official noted that 53% of water subscribers nationwide are linked to the sewage network, of whom 5.7 million are in the capital city of Tehran.
“Industries’ total annual demand for water is estimated to be about 1.3 bcm that can be met through treated wastewater,” he said.
In fact, the current processing capacity has helped reduce extraction from underground resources by as much as 1.5% or 1 bcm per year.
“The state-run firm is building 87 new effluent processing facilities that are in different stages of construction and will add about 2 mcm of reclaimed water to the current capacity,” he added
Located in one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, Iran’s average precipitation rate has been lower than the global average for at least 10 years. Some experts and environmentalists denounce a widely-held notion that chronic water shortages can only be alleviated by higher precipitation.
Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, wastewater treatment and reclamation were virtually non-existent in Iran. Significant efforts were made in the 1990s to reverse the trend.
Six wastewater treatment plants are up and running in Tehran Province, producing 450,000 cubic meters of processed sewage a day, of which 30% are supplied to industries and the rest goes to waste as there are no buyers for the valuable commodity.
Tehran Water and Wastewater Company is able to deliver as much as 40 mcm of treated wastewater to the capital’s municipality per year, which will rise by at least 15 mcm annually.
Amini said the output, which complies with environmental standards, is piped largely to southern Tehran for farming and industrial use, and is also suitable for watering green spaces.
Recalling that wastewater is playing an increasingly important role in conserving water resources in most countries, he said TWWC is ready to supply 110,000 cubic meters of wastewater to municipalities across the megacity per day.
Tehran’s wastewater treatment plants are in Shahrak-e-Gharb, Shahrak-e Mahallati, Ekbatan, Zargandeh, Qeytariyeh and Sahebqaraniyeh districts.
An estimated $2 billion have been spent on expanding wastewater infrastructure in the capital that has a population of 13 million.
To help reduce water use from depleting ground resources, as of March, Tehran Water and Wastewater Company will supply Tehran Municipality 40 million cubic meters of treated wastewater a year for parks and green spaces.
TM uses 180 million cubic meters of water from depleting underground resources in the sprawling capital per year. It uses half a million cubic meters of water every day from underground tables that are on the verge of disappearing.
TWWC and TM signed a contract last December, based on which the latter is obliged to use only recycled wastewater instead of the rapidly diminishing underground resources.
As per the contract, TM is required to meet at least 60% of its daily need (500,000 cubic meters) from unconventional sources, namely reclaimed wastewater, she said.
The annual exhibition on water and wastewater, also known as Watex will run until January 2, 2023 and hosts 157 domestic and foreign companies from Italy, China, Turkey and Taiwan.
This is the biggest event in the Iranian water industry and many prominent domestic and international companies will take part in the expo to showcase their latest products and services.
The number of attending knowledge-based companies is expected to see a massive 10-fold increase.
As Iran faces a worsening water crisis, the significance of getting familiar with and employing new water management systems have currently gained traction.
The four-day exhibition is an opportunity to raise funds for new and underdeveloped projects and display the latest services and modern equipment, such as water filtration and sweetening systems, automation solutions and measuring equipment.