Author(s): Babak Bozorgy; Farhad Yazdandoost; Eelco Van Beek; Mehdi Mirzaee
Linked Author(s): Farhad Yazdandoost
Keywords: Integrated water resources management; Flow forecasting; Wetlands; Stakeholders
Abstract: The Sistan plain in Iran is a closed inland delta at the end of the much larger Hirmand transboundary river basin with nearly 100% of the supply coming from bordering Afghanistan and a densely populated enclave in the scarcely populated south-eastern part of Iran. The river is supporting irrigated agriculture in the area and is the source for Hamoun wetlands system around the delta. This wetlands system is one of the main and most valuable aquatic ecosystems in the region and registered wetlands in Ramsar and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve conventions. The basin is confronted with extreme drought and flood conditions and is very vulnerable to upstream developments. The Iranian government tries to improve the living conditions of the people in the region by providing infrastructure for irrigated agriculture. Further development of the irrigated area means less water for the wetlands. This will not only endanger the ecosystem, but also the livelihood of the people who depend on the goods and services which the wetlands provide. The related constraints can only be addressed by an Integrated Water Resources Management approach within the entire river basin; but currently due to the political situation and priority setting of the Afghan Government, a basin-wide approach is not yet possible. For Iran, this means that alternative ways should be found to retrieve the necessary information about the upstream situation which is done by using satellite information and global weather forecast data. For developing an IWRM plan for the Sistan plain in Iran, a detailed survey was done of the various socio-economic use-functions of the water in the area. Analyses showed that the Hamoun wetlands are under serious risk of loosing their ecological value and the developments will decrease the inflow to the wetlands with more than 50% . Cooperation with Afghanistan and some fundamental choices in Iran about agricultural development are required to safeguard a minimum level of ecological functioning of the wetlands.