Until not long ago, Zayanderud, the “River of Life," was the pride and joy of the ancient city of Isfahan. But since approximately 2012, the river has been mostly dry. Intense drought in Iran and across the Middle East have played their part in inflicting this ecological wound, but the real culprits are man-made. Dams built upstream have diverted too much water to support cash crop agriculture.

On August 7, the authorities announced that the gates of Zayandeh Dam, 88 kilometers upstream from Isfahan, would be opened to release 30 million square meters of water within 10 days to irrigate the gardens west of the city. Compared to the bygone glory of the river, the water levels were disappointing, but the people of Isfahan still hoped they would get to see something of their beloved river again for at least a few days. Soon after, authorities announced that a dam closer to the city would stop the water until Zayandeh Dam closed its gates again — which it did a few days ago, in mid-August.

 

Photographs by Morteza Salehi, Tasnim News Agency

 

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