The country has had lower rainfall in many areas and is pushing ahead with its dam building programme despite limited materials supplies over the past year. Limited funding was also an issue and the Government has increased credits to the water sector, said the Ministry of Energy and Water Affairs.

To implement the Khoda-Afarin and Qiz Qalasi hydro power plants the Government has given Euro 85M (US$109.9M) and Euro 40M (US$51.7M), respectively, it was separately reported by Mehr News Agency.

The agency added that the 78m high Alborz embankment dam, in Mazandaran province, is due to be completed by mid-2009. The dam is being built by Mazanaran Regional Water Co, which is also constructing the Galvard dam and that project is just over a quarter completed.

Half a year ago the Ministry gave the total number of dams at about 90, and in late 2007 it noted that the country had 176 potential large projects.

In reviewing the number of projects built, the Ministry said Iran had 14 dams built between the 1950s and 1979, and since then approximately 500 structures (180 large and 320 small).

The Ministry added that the Iranian dams sector is also involved in implementing water-related projects in a dozen other countries.