Officials from three national and regional governments on Wednesday took the first steps toward the construction of three dams to be built in the Kurdistan Region, not far from the border of Turkey.
“In a meeting between Kurdistan, Iraq, and Turkey, the initial approval has been given to jointly build three dams in the district of Mergasor in Erbil province,” said Akram Mohammed, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Director for Dams and Water Resources.
He told Kurdistan 24, “One of the dams is to be built on the Balnda River in the Mzury sub-district, while the other two are to be constructed on Chama River in the Sherwan sub-district in the border areas.”
According to Mohammed, the three sides agreed on Wednesday to build the dams, provided that joint Iraqi and Kurdish forces make field visits to each site within the next two weeks to assess potential security issues.
“Talk of building the dams has been ongoing for about a year,” added Mohammed. “Once the final approval regarding the security assessment has been given, we will begin construction.”
Mohammed Amen Faris, a member of the Agricultural Affairs Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said that the project would provide 170 megawatts of electricity to the surrounding areas.
“These dams will greatly benefit the Kurdistan Region as they will help revive the villages in that area that have been evacuated,” he continued, mentioning also that the project “would help to save water for agriculture and revive tourism.”
Analysts have long called on successive governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to implement policies that raise awareness of water shortages and incentivize the public to ration its water usage. The KRG has taken some of the initial steps in recent years, but meaningful change has been, at best, sluggish.
Experts have also suggested the regional government in Erbil, along with the federal government in Baghdad, must work together and reach a consensus with neighboring countries, namely Turkey and Iran, on an equitable way of sharing water from the Tigris and Euphrates basins.