According to an article last month in the New York Times Iran is facing a major water crisis.
Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country. President Hassan Rouhani has identified water as a national security issue, and in public speeches in areas struck hardest by the shortage he is promising to “bring the water back.”
Experts cite climate change, wasteful irrigation practices and the depletion of groundwater supplies as leading factors in the growing water shortage. In the case of Lake Urmia, they add the completion of a series of dams that choked off a major supply of fresh water flowing from the mountains that tower on either side of the lake.
According to a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Iran didn’t always have a water problem.
That cooperation began in 1962, after a severe earthquake in the Qazvin region of Iran killed more than 12,000 people. The earthquake collapsed a chain of wells that engineers had drilled in a qanat, or tunnel, style. Hundreds of thousands were at risk from lack of drinking water. Israel flew in teams of drillers. New water supplies were identified, and a series of artesian wells were drilled. The drilling was such a success that Israel’s water engineering company, today a private enterprise, was hired to identify and gain access to underground resources elsewhere in Iran.
Beginning in 1968, a desalination company owned by the Israeli government built dozens of plants in Iran. These are now aging, while Israel continues to innovate: On its Mediterranean coast, it recently opened an immense, energy-efficient desalination plant. More than half of Israel’s drinking water — purer, cleaner and less salty than natural sources — now comes from seawater.
Cooperation with Iran abruptly ended with the Islamic revolution. Indeed, the Israeli team of water experts was on one of the last direct flights from Iran to Israel in 1979.
So unlike President Obama, President Rouhani wants to make the water rise. He probably could if he’d reach out to Israel. Not only does Israel have a history of helping Iran to develop its water resources, it is currently a world leader in water technologies as evidenced by its success at home.
Yes, Israelis must still be wise with their water use. Yes, emphatically, this is a desert region, desperately short of natural water. And yes, we have indeed been worried for years about the possibility of water shortages provoking conflict.
But for Israel, for the foreseeable future, Kushnir says, the water crisis is over. And not because this happens to have been one of the wettest winters in years. Rather, he says, an insistent refusal to let the country be constrained by insufficient natural water sources — a refusal that dates back to David Ben-Gurion’s decision to build the National Water Carrier in the 1950s, the most significant infrastructure investment of Israel’s early years — led Israel first into large-scale water recycling, and over the past decade into major desalination projects. The result, as of early 2013, is that the Water Authority feels it can say with confidence that Israel has beaten the drought.
President Rouhani has a resource he could use to “bring the water back.” He could engage Israel. But he won’t.
And we all know why. It isn’t because Iran pities the Palestinians. Rouhani considers Israel a blight, or perhaps a “sore,” that doesn’t belong in the Middle East. His boss, has said explicitly that Israel should be removed from the region. This isn’t normal. It is pathological. The hatred the Iranian harbors for Israel is magnified by the fact that the Islamic Republic wouldn’t consider asking Israel for help; even to help their own citizens.
Next time you read about how the West will moderate the Iran by reaching out to the regime or how moderate Rouhani is, just remember that is a government that puts its enmity towards Israel above the welfare of its citizens.
[Photo: 2009IranianRevolution / YouTube ]DONATE
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