The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources announced on Monday a significant decline in water levels in the country’s strategic Mosul and Haditha (pictured) dams due to a lack of rainfall in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and a reduction in water flow from Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Director of Projects Ali Hashim told AKnews that the ministry has developed new plans to reduce water wastage in order to cope with this year’s water shortages.
“The Ministry will line (the country’s) rivers and streams and coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture to prevent farmers from wasting water,” he said.
The Ministry of Water Resources announced that it has allocated close to $69 million [83 billion Iraqi dinars] to line main and branch rivers in the southern provinces to reduce water wastage.
The Agricultural Initiative Commission headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided at the end of March to form a national water council to determine the policies that should be adopted to develop the country’s water supplies.
Hashim said that the formation of the committee will also assume the role of negotiating with Iraq’s neighboring states to reach agreements about the water that flows through them into Iraq through the shared Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Turkey is already working on the construction a major dam on the rivers and Syria has announced plans to construct a further major dam project on the river Euphrates.
Iran has blocked river water flowing into Iraqi territories several times. In 2008 Iran built a dam on the river Alwand which prevented its usual flow into Iraq through the northern Khanaqin region. The river, now completely dry had played a vital role in the area’s agricultural irrigation projects.
Iraq has engaged in talks with Turkey and Syria on several occasions to reach agreements over the flow of water into Iraq from shared rivers. The talks have not yet met with any success and both countries have gone ahead with plans to build dams that further reduce the volume of water entering Iraq.
The United Nations mission in Iraq warned in its March report that Iraq runs the risk of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers drying up completely by 2040. Although the Ministry of Water Resources recognized the significance of the UN report, they said its figures were exaggerated and not based on accurate statistics.