Sediments, wastewaters threaten UNESCO-tagged hydraulic ensemble

March 9, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran’s Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is under threat of excessive amounts of mineral salt and wastewaters that perpetually pass through the southwestern UNESCO World Heritage.

“These days, due to the increase in salt contents in the waters flowing into this [world] heritage complex, dandruff and salt deposits are seen in different parts of the structure,” ILNA quoted Mohammad-Hossein Arastouzadeh, the director of the world heritage site, as saying on Friday.

The ensemble comprises bridges, weirs, tunnels, canals and a series of ancient watermills powered by human-made waterfalls. It is named after an ancient city of the same name with its history dating back to the time of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king.

Talking on wastewaters which run from the modern city of Shushtar, the official explained, “Wastewaters were planned to be connected to a sewage network on a [previous] scheduled time. Unfortunately, the network is developing slowly so that urban wastewaters are entering Karun River and consequently pouring into the historical hydraulic ensemble.”

“Due to the fact that the sewage network is currently being constructed in Shushtar, we must wait for the completion of this project… to fully resolve this problem,” he added.

Some experts put the blame on Gotvand Dam when it comes to increasing salty waters in Khuzestan province. It is one of the biggest dams in the country, which was completed in 2012 over the Karun River.

In 2018, Hamidreza Khoda-Bakhshi, president of Khuzestan’s Association of Water Engineers, said “According to studies by University of Tehran, Gotvand Dam has increased the salt in the Karun River by 35 percent.”

Inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2009 as a ‘masterpiece of creative genius’, the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is a destination for history buffs, nature lovers and travelers who eyewitness how the prehistoric yet homogeneous hydraulic system works.

“The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System testifies to the heritage and the synthesis of earlier Elamite and Mesopotamian knowhow; it was probably influenced by the Petra dam and tunnel and by Roman civil engineering,” UNESCO says.

AFM/MQ/MG

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