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Iranian Water Researches Journal
Rules governing groundwater (wells) resources in Iran

 submission: - | acception: - | publication: 09/10/2018


seyed naseraldin badisar1*, mohammad sadegh ahmadi2





Shortage of water resources and successive droughts are one of the most important types of problems caused by climate changes and governmental activities that will undoubtedly cause great disputes in the future. Global water crisis, drought and famine and their effects have made governments to make their utmost effort to control and use groundwater resources. Groundwater, as one of the main and most important water resources in Iran, is a major supplier of drinking, agricultural, and industrial water and has an important role in economic growth. Historical changes of water laws from ۱۹۲۸ so far, not only have not been in conformity with modern circumstances, but also have increased violations and reduced power and authority of sovereignty over the water. The process began and strengthened with the law of equitable distribution of water and subsequent laws. The laws has led to a situation that despite the legal decisions, a large number of illegal wells was made during the period of ۱۹۹۴ to ۲۰۰۵. There are still more than ۲۵۰ thousand illegal wells in the current situation (Mazaheri and Abdulmanafi, ۲۰۱۵) and there is an incentive to continue these activities and increasing violations. In spite of the weaknesses in the legislation, the capacity and powers of the existing laws are not used properly and a remarkable part of the intentions of the legislator is not met. In the law of equitable distribution of water, no new decree has been issued regarding to the private ownership of water resources, except groundwater. Whether beneath a private land or public land, water is absolutely a joint asset that people can own by obtaining permission from the government. In fact, what has changed with the adoption of new rules is the issue of water resource allocationand private ownership of water resources still remains. However, the assumption of ownership of the water in the law of equitable distribution of water does not mean absolute ownership of holders. Since the fluid nature of groundwater prevents the physical possession of the underground source by the holder, it can be said that traditional rules of use of groundwater do not generally provide any right of ownership that the holder can appeal to the legal system. Based on the studies of ministry of energy, different regions of the country have been divided into two forbidden and free zones in terms of the possibility of exploiting underground water. In free zones, individuals can submit a written request to the regional water companies in each province to get a license for digging wells or constructing subterranean and exploiting underground water resources for any purposes. The use of groundwater resources up to ۲۵ cubic meters per day for domestic, drinking, sanitation, and watering use does not need a permit in these areas and people can only use up to the abovementioned figure by informing the Ministry of Energy. In the forbidden zone, licensing well digging for industrial and civil projects of government with the approval of the Ministry of Energy and drinking water supply for cities, towns and villages with the offer of relevant ministries or their affiliated organizations. Industrial and drinking water, livestock and poultry health water supply with the certificate issued by the competent authorities will be possible based on the water facilities and the approval of the Ministry of Energy. Obvious point about the law is that tens of thousands of different beneficiaries didn’t see it necessary to make use of law for getting legal license. Because offenders, within three decades of experience, have found that regulated well digging leads to government’s supervision over their destiny and endless harassment upon them. This is the process that began and strengthened with the equitable distribution of water and subsequent laws. One of the opportunities created in forbidden areas for well digging licensing is related to livestock and greenhouse units. Experience has proven that these licenses are solely a certificate to permit legal well digging and investigations show an overdraft of more than ۶۰ to ۷۰ percent of these units. It can be asserted that more than ۶۰% of these units have virtually no greenhouse or livestock activities and just tremendously extract water and continue traditional agriculture and high-consuming activities (in term of water). In many cases, the owners have used the value added of converting rain-fed land around wells to water-fed lands and try to sell with high prices.


Groundwater resources  Wells  ownership  Forbidden regions  Operation permit 

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