Iranian Dam Threatens Iraqi Kurdistan’s Legendary Sirwan River
When neighbouring Iran tested their new dam recently, levels on an important Iraqi Kurdish river dropped four meters. Locals fear when the dam is completed, the water will dry up altogether.
The Sirwan River in northern Iraq is an important part of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan’s history and heritage; thousands of parents have named their children after it and many poems, songs and proverbs have been written about it.
The river is not just a cultural icon, it also provides water to large parts of Iraqi Kurdistan. But for some years now, a planned dam project being built in neighbouring Iran – the Daryan Dam - has been a threat to the Sirwan River in Iraqi Kurdistan. Various reports indicate that the Iranian dam could cause a water crisis in the Halabja and Sulaymaniyah areas as well as the loss of a significant amount of agricultural land.
The Iranian project has two parts: A dam with a bridge and then a tunnel, that will divert water and be used to generate hydropower.
Now it seems the dam may also impact negatively on Iraqi Kurdistan’s largest drinking water project, completed in June this year. The project, which was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was to provide drinking water and future-proof the area’s water supplies.
The JICA project requires 50,000 cubic meters of water per day and the Sirwan River would have provided this.