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Tigris River

"An Iraqi Expert Says the Tigris River Waters Will Not Meet 50 Per cent of Mosul's Need for Water After the Construction of the Turkish Ilisu Dam in 2011." Report by Mustafa Majid in Baghdad

An expert at the Water Resources Ministry has stated that Iraq's share in the Tigris River after the construction of the [Turkish] Ilisu Dam within the next three years will drop to 211 cubic meters per second in summer times, depriving the city of Mosul of about 50 per cent of its original water share. In an exclusive statement to the Al-Sabah newspaper, the expert at the ministry's General Directorate for Administering Water Resources said that the Ilisu Dam, which is part of the GAP Project [for building 22 dams on the basins of the two rivers within the next 15 years], lies 50 kilometers from the Iraqi border. Once built, he said, the dam will reduce the Tigris River waters by 47 per cent a year, depriving the city of Mosul of about 50 per cent of its need for water in summer times.

Consequently, the expert said, the dam will hold about 80 per cent of the river's waters, just as it has done with the Euphrates's waters, adding that the dam's 300 kilometers area, which has a storage capacity of 11.4 billion cubic meters, will strip Iraq of approximately 3 million dunams of agricultural land. This, in turn, will force farmers to quit agriculture and immigrate to cities. The reduced water share will also reflect negatively on potable water, power generation, industry, and the rehabilitation of the marshlands and the environment. After the completion of the Ilisu Dam, he said, [Turkey] will start the construction of the Ilisu-Jazra system, which will divert water to the Turkish arable lands before crossing the Turkish-Iraqi border. This system will release only 211 cubic meters of water per second with a high rate of salinity, which will double in the basin's southern area that has suffered from salinity over the past years.

Iraq needs about 50 billion cubic meters of water a year, of which 60 per cent are to be provided by the Tigris River and the remaining 40 per cent are to be provided by the Euphrates, though the storage capacity of Iraq's dams, tanks, and other storage systems is estimated at 149 billion cubic meters. Iraq will need 77 billion cubic meters of water a year by 2015, but will have only 43 billion cubic meters a year. It is noteworthy that the GAP irrigation project in the southeastern part of Anatolia was approved in the early eighties of the past century to increase the area of the Turkish arable land by more than 9 million dunams. The project is aimed at building 22 dams and a number of small dams. Four major dams have already been built, in addition to 19 hydroelectric stations, with a total storage capacity of more than 100 billion cubic meters of water.

Originally published by Al-Sabah, Baghdad, in Arabic 3 Jul 08.