Iranians Prayed for Rain, but Were Covered in Snow


The drought only heightened anxiety, and many in Tehran have suggested that what was needed was not prayers but better leadership: Disastrous water management, they say, has allowed for hundreds of thousands of illegal wells, further diminishing the water supply.

Gholamreza Khoshkholq, the head of Tehran’s electricity company, warned that water levels were too low to generate electricity over the summer. The dams will not be able to generate enough power when demand peaks as temperatures rise. “There will be blackouts,” he predicted.

Because of the continuing drought, the ground under Tehran has started sinking as underground aquifers dry up. Sinkholes are a constant presence across the country, and parts of highways and overpasses in the capital have collapsed into the earth, in some cases dragging cars and people down with them.

“We shouldn’t fool ourselves,” said Mr. Madani of the Department of Environment, who was educated in the United States and recently taught system analysis in environmental policy at Imperial College London.

“The snow was heavy, but far from what we need to quench our thirst for water,” he said. “The drought is still here, and we have a seriously tough year ahead with empty reservoirs and aquifers, and our endless demand for water.”

Correction: January 28, 2018

An earlier version of this article misstated the day of a sermon on “rain prayers” in Qom, Iran. It was on Friday, Jan. 19, not Friday, Jan. 26.

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