The Kurdistan Region will have nearly twice as much irrigation and drinking water as needed when the construction of 20 dams are complete as pressure grows in the country to find long-term solutions to water shortages.
Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources announced some 80 percent of the dam projects have been completed and plans are underway to finance the final stage of the constructions.
“The government has promised us to fund the remaining 11 billion dinars ($9.4 million) that we will need to go on with the constructions,” Minister Abdulsatar Majid said.
The Kurdistan Region has 17 small and middle size dams but the population growth and lengthy drought periods have in the past caused water shortages in many areas of the country, especially in southern areas where much of the irrigation water depends on the Sirwan River flowing from Iran.
Compared to the rest of Iraq, Kurdistan Region is the leading area when it comes to water sources both for drinking and irrigation. Apart from the rivers and lakes that pour into Kurdistan Region from Iranian Kurdistan, the area is abundant with lakes and waterholes.
Kurdistan Region has four main rivers that include the Big River, the Small River, Sirwan and Alwan. There are also three dams, Dukan, Darbandikhan and Dohuk.
Experts have warned that the border-crossing river of Sirwan could dry up in Kurdistan Region in the near future, if Iran continues to construct dams on the river and prevents water to flow into other side of the border.
With over 5,86 billion cubic meters of water, Sirwan has become a vital resource for both irrigation and electricity in the region.
The river is nearly 400 kilometers long and starts from the mountain tops in Iran’s Kurdistan and pours into Tigris river in Iraq after crossing Kurdistan Region.
Over 60 percent of the river is in Iran’s Kurdistan and some 24 percent is inside Kurdistan Region.
Kurdish authorities say Iran has completed two channels that divert the water flow of Sirwan for their own use which could have detrimental consequences for irrigation in Kurdistan Region.
“Iran building new dams on Sirwan River has of course deepened the shortage of water, but if we complete our own dams, we will no longer be dependent on water from our neighbors,” the minister said.