water resources. In addition, water consumption in the urban, agricultural, and industrial sectors is not satisfactory. Although the water transfer projects have helped to reduce the intensity of water shortage in the receiving areas, a holistic and integrated approach has not been observed in planning for these projects.
Recent years have witnessed a renewed emphasis on integrated management of water resources, on the basis of which a new comprehensive water act and water management system is being developed. Increased awareness among water managers of the advantages of integrated water resource management and increased concerns about the possible adverse effects of IBWT projects have led to more careful examination and more in-depth study of new proposals.
This paper will present the current water resources situation and the trend in water consumption in Iran, and outline the new policies and strategies adopted by the water sector. It will also review and discuss information on several large interbasin water transfer projects, some implemented and some proposed for implementation. The paper will conclude with results and recommendations.
Water is a vital natural resource for human beings and other forms of life; it is crucial to food production, serves as an input to many economic activities, and possesses spiritual and psychological values beyond its strictly utilitarian functions.
In semiarid and arid regions, limited water is available for beneficial uses. Iran is an arid country with an average annual precipitation of about 250 mm; less than one-third of the world average. Renewable water resources in Iran have been estimated to be 130,000 mm3 per year, which may be considered the long-term average of national water assets. The increasing water demand has caused an alarming decrease in per capita renewable water available. The annual per capita water as a general index of the water resources status used to be about 7,000 m3 in 1956 when the population was only 19 million. At present, with a population that has grown to about 65 million, the index is estimated to be about 2,000 m3. With the increasing trend in population growth, it is predicted to sink further, to below 1,000 m3 in the year 2025. These figures clearly show that our future generations are to face a serious water shortage during the coming decades. Pollution of water resources due to human activities makes this situation even worse.
Substantial achievements have been made during the last two decades in utilizing water resources for irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, and hydropower generation. Due to the present increase in water demand by an increasing population, as well as the economic status and desire for higher standards of living by the public, the conflicts of water supply and water demand are gradually getting more serious so that the available water must be shared among different regions in the country for different uses. In most areas, local water resources have already been tapped, while demand remains beyond the capacity of existing water resources. Bridging the present and future gaps between demand