The water level behind the Mosul Dam has dropped, causing an electric power plant in the north of the country to shut down. To restore the level to its height, Iraq appealed to neighboring Iran and Turkey to release water to its lands as a solution to the problem, and the latter responded that it lies in the low rates of rainfall.
In the village of Khanki overlooking the Mosul Dam, its leader [Al-Mukhtar] revealed last January that when the water level decreased, it receded from the ruins of a school dating back to the seventies of the last century, and the water was flooding it following the opening of the dam in 1986.
The Mosul Dam, located in Nineveh Governorate on the Tigris River, is one of the largest dams in the country. It provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation. To provide electricity to approximately 1.7 million residents.
However, the low water level led to a decline in the distribution of electricity to the areas and villages surrounding the station of the Mosul Dam, which used to operate with a capacity of 750 megawatts, according to Ahmed Musa, a spokesman for the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq.
“The ministry was able to operate the plant with a capacity of only 200 megawatts, and it will not return to full capacity unless the water level in the dam basin rises,” Musa told SciDev.Net .
He pointed out that the decline will not affect the work of other stations. Because it runs on fuel and gas, not hydroelectric plants.
For his part, the official spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, Khaled Shamal, confirms that the storage and operation of the Mosul Water Dam is linked to the water revenues coming from Türkiye, which are very low during this period and below normal rates.
Khaled says, “70% of the water comes from outside Iraq, 50% from Türkiye, 15% from Iran, and 5% from Syria,” noting that the ministry’s current measures are to reduce withdrawals from the dam’s water, but there is no alternative to water revenues.
Despite expectations of heavy rains in February and March, Ramadan Hamza – an expert in water strategies and policies and a faculty member at the University of Duhok near the dam – warned of the seriousness of water shortages, as water poverty is expected next summer. The main dams in the country are still suffering from drought.
Hamza says that the water level of the Mosul Dam Lake has reached its lowest level, and the highest amount of water in the Mosul Dam Lake is about 8 billion cubic meters, and currently it is less than 4 billion cubic meters, and part of it is a dead reservoir of about 3 billion cubic meters.
Hence, “the strategic reserve is less than one and a half billion,” stressing the need to intervene and negotiate with Türkiye in order to release water to Iraqi lands through river levels, according to Hamza.
Iraq’s problems with neighboring countries – according to Khaled – lie in three axes, the first of which is the implementation of major strategic projects by these countries, such as the construction of large dams and land reclamation, “without taking into consideration the historical rights of Iraq, and without coordination with the Iraqi side.”
The second axis is the problem of employment policies related to the management of water resources in those countries, while the third is the rainfall rates, which during the last three years were low and below their natural level, and affected the water revenues of Iraq.
The Turkish side confirms that the rate of rainfall in most parts of Turkey has decreased a lot since last October until now, according to the President of the Turkish Water Policy Academy, Dursun Yıldız.
“We’ve had 45 percent below average precipitation over a long period,” Yıldız told SciDev.Net .
“The Tigris and Euphrates river basins have also witnessed less precipitation than usual since the past three years, so the water levels in the dams in the two river basins are very low compared to previous years.”
According to the forecasts of meteorologists, “snow will fall during the next week, and with the natural rainfall in the spring, the water budget deficit may decrease,” according to Yıldız.
Water problems related to climate change impose a more efficient use of water resources in the Tigris and Euphrates basins, according to Yıldız, who believes that stronger cooperation is required between the riparian countries, noting that Türkiye provided Iraq with additional water during droughts in the past.
“If there is enough snow in the coming period, [Türkiye] can take the same position in this regard,” says Yıldız.
There is a need for more effective long-term regional cooperation in this regard, “and this is necessary, not only for the riparian countries, but also for peace and stability in the entire region.”
Khaled points out that a high-tech delegation will visit Türkiye soon to negotiate and pressure to increase water releases towards the Mosul Dam.
By Adel Fakhir, Iraqi Journalist