Case Study #45

Zayandeh Rud basin

Si-o-se-pol Bridge: Isfahan city, February 2019: people are welcoming the river, which temporarily is flowing (photo by HamidReza Nikoomaram, Fars News Agency, CC-BY-4.0,

Governance Level


Water management topics addressed

Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities

#45: Zayandeh Rud basin


The Zayandeh Rud River is the main supplier for drinking water to a population of over 4.5 million in the three provinces of Isfahan, Yazd, and Charmahal-Bakhtiari. It provides agricultural water for over 200,000 hectares, supplies water to several large industries, and is and the hub of tourism in the central plateau of Iran. This river used to have significant flow all year long, but today runs dry due to water extraction before reaching the city of Isfahan. As the gap between water availability and water demand grows, the different water users increasingly compete for the scarce resource. Before 2005, water resources management was based on the basin’s boundaries and implemented by the authority of Isfahan Water Organization. After the approval of the Law of Independence of Provincial Water Affairs in 2005, the basin was governed based on provincial and administrative boundaries. In 2014, The Supreme Council of Water decided to establish the Zayandeh Rud Basin Commission for better coordination and planning across the whole basin and to endorse major policy directions and planning outcomes. The main challenge for the water system of the Zayandeh Rud catchment is the lack of horizontal and vertical coordination among the decisions of relevant bodies, especially between Isfahan and Charmahal-Bakhtiari provinces, which has caused  unconventional competition for greater shares of the basin’s water resources, the incitation of public opinions and the intensification of the social gaps and the high susceptibility of the region to social unrest and tensions.

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