History of water supply in Tehran

Contrary to most cities, Tehran is not build near rivers and the required water has to be supplied from nearby areas and bodies of water.

Until 1927, the water supply of Tehran was provided through 26 Qanats with a watering of 700 liters per second. In 1927, the operation for establishment of a water canal to transmit the water of Karaj River to Tehran was initiated. The canal was 53 km long transmitting water from the village of Bileqan in Karaj to Jamshidabad in Tehran and was constructed in 4 years. 20 km of this canal was covered and there was a possibility of contamination and water loss. Through this canal, 53 “stones” as right of water and nine eighty-fourth as quotas was added to Tehran’s water supply, which made the total amount of water distributed throughout the city to be 100 “stones” (1600 liters per second).

In 1950, the first plan for pipeline was carried out for 900 people and two steel pipelines with a diameter of 40 inches and a capacity of 242000 cubic meters a day were considered to transmit water from Bileqan intake to Tehran’s first water treatment plant called Jalaliyeh. The first pipeline and Jalaliyeh treatment plant were launched in 1955.

In 1954, in order to control rainfalls, studies were undertaken to construct Amirkabir Dam located 40 km in northwest of Tehran (from Kharsangkooh pond) near Varyan Village in Karaj-Chalus road.  Construction of the dam was started in 1958 and finished in 1963.

In order to meet the ever-increasing demand for water in Tehran, the second water treatment plant called Kan and two concrete mains with a diameter of 2000mm were established to transmit water from Bileqan intake. This construction was operated in 1964.

The increasing trend of migration to Tehran and overpopulation created new demands and this caused the authorities to seek solutions for increasing the capacity of water supply and development of facilities. Hence, underground waters were considered for usage to meet the needs of citizens along qanats and Karaj Dam, especially during peak moments of water use during summer. Digging deep wells was started in 1963 and their numbers increased ever since.

In 1961, studies for construction of Latyan Dam, located 32 km to the northeast of Tehran was started to control the water of Jajrud River. In the construction plan, water supply to parts of Tehran and Farmlands of Varamin plain had been considered. This dam was operated in 1967, with a tunnel called Taloo (9km long and a diameter of 7.2m) transmitting water to the eastern parts of Tehran. Tehran’s third water treatment plant was started at around the same time in Hakimiye, which was operated in 1968. The plan for the development of this third water treatment plant and establishment of a fourth one was finalized in 1984.

Following more requirements, studies for construction of an earth dam on Lar River in the northeast of Tehran in Kalan Mountains in an area called Polur on Haraz road (Tehran-Amol) was carried out. The dam was completed in 1981 and operated in 1984.

One of the objectives of construction of Lar Dam was to increase the water supply of Tehran, but because of water runway, it was not possible to use the nominal capacity of the dam. The stored water is transmited via Kalan tunnel (20 km long with a diameter of 3 m) up to 3 km from the lake of Latyan Dam and after supplying two power plants of Kalan and Lavarak enters the lake.

The overgrowth of Tehran has created a situation in which the water resources in dams of Karaj, Latyan and Lar and deep wells, that were supposed to be used as last resources during times of increased consumption, are no longer enough to provide for the population of this city. As a result, underground water beds were used in an increasing trend. The limit of usage from these underground sourses has been determined to be 250 million cubic meters a year.

Planned withdrawal of underground sourses of Tehran (including several small water tables in the north in Nyavaran, Maqsoodbeyg Valley and Mahmoodye and a large water bed in Abbasabad to the South) started from 1963. The proportion of underground water to the whole amount of water provided for the city has increased from 13.5% in 1963 up to 49% in recent years.


Karaj dam has a capacity of 205 Million cubic meters. In 1963 about 56 million cubic meters of water needed for Tehran was provided from Amirkabir Dam. In 1994 about 339 million cubic meters of water was provided from this dam and this amount reached to 330 million in 2002.

In the start of using Latyan Dam in 1968, about 3.13 million cubic meters of water requirement of Tehran was provided from this dam and this amount increased to 165 million a year in 1984. With the operation  of La Dam in 1984, each year some water is transmitted from there to Latyan Dam.

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