University of Oulu

Sharifi, A., Mirchi, A., Pirmoradian, R. et al. Battling Water Limits to Growth: Lessons from Water Trends in the Central Plateau of Iran. Environmental Management 68, 53–64 (2021).

Battling water limits to growth : lessons from water trends in the central plateau of Iran

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Author: Sharifi, Alireza1; Mirchi, Ali2; Pirmoradian, Roghayeh1;
Organizations: 1Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran
2Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, USA
3Institute of Geodesy, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
4Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Council on Middle East Studies, The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University, New Haven, USA
6Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, UK
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-04-07


The Zayandeh-Rud River Basin in the central plateau of Iran continues to grapple with water shortages due to a water-intensive development path made possible by a primarily supply-oriented water management approach to battle the water limits to growth. Despite inter-basin water transfers and increasing groundwater supply, recurring water shortages and associated tensions among stakeholders underscore key weaknesses in the current water management paradigm. There was an alarming trend of groundwater depletion in the basin’s four main aquifers in the 1993–2016 period as indicated by the results of the Mann-Kendall3 (MK3) test and Innovative Trend Analysis (ITA) of groundwater volume. The basin’s water resources declined by more than 6 BCM in 2016 compared to 2005 based on the equivalent water height (EWH) derived from monthly data (2002–2016) from the GRACE. The extensive groundwater depletion is an unequivocal evidence of reduced water availability in the face of growing basin-wide demand, necessitating water saving in all water use sectors. Implementing an integrated water resources management plan that accounts for evolving water supply priorities, growing demand and scarcity, and institutional changes is an urgent step to alleviate the growing tensions and preempt future water insecurity problems that are bound to occur if demand management approaches are delayed.

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Series: Environmental management
ISSN: 0364-152X
ISSN-E: 1432-1009
ISSN-L: 0364-152X
Volume: 68
Issue: 1
Pages: 53 - 64
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-021-01447-0
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
218 Environmental engineering
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2021. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Environmental Management. The final authenticated version is available online at: