The reservoir impounded by Iraq’s Mosul Dam has shrunk 60 percent in surface area from the late 1990s to present day, according to a report from the World Resources Institute (WRI):
There are several factors behind this trend, including poor water resource management by the Iraqi government and intense regional droughts. But it’s Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) and its 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants across the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that many sources cite as a key driver behind the reduced river flow into Iraq. The non-profit EPIC says that “according to Iraqi government projections, the GAP has reduced river flow into Iraq by 80 percent to date.”
Millions of Iraqis rely on the Tigris and Euphrates for drinking water, irrigation, power and transportation. Furthermore, water shortages are thought to be behind large increases in desertification in parts of south and central Iraq. And Iraq’s water stress, an indicator of competition for water among users, is set to increase due to growing populations and climate change. It’s likely that struggles surrounding water shortages will continue in this arid nation.