Iran pegs $1bn to pump Caspian water to the desert
Ambitious project seeks to supply city and mitigate desert expansion
Iran is launching a $1bn first phase project to construct a desalination plant on the shores of the Caspian and pump the water inland to the desert city of Semnan, 150km to the south.
The first desalination plant to be built will have a capacity of 200 million cubic metres per year, according to Energy Minister Majid Namjou, supplying water for drinking, irrigation and industrial use to a population of 200,000. It will be built over the next two years.
"The desert is growing... therefore we need to control its growth," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an address in the northern city of Sari, where the reverse osmosis plant is to be built.
Khatam al-Anbiya group, the industrial arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, is handling work on the project.
Iran already operates several other desalination plants, and two other phases are planned for this project that would pump more water into desert areas from the Caspian Sea and the Gulf.