The KRG's Water Reserve Enhancements: Spotlight on Duhok

In a rare alignment, global crises have forged unity among nations to combat a common threat. The specter of climate change, born from a convergence of natural and human-induced

The KRG's Water Reserve Enhancements: Spotlight on Duhok
January 20, 2024

In a rare alignment, global crises have forged unity among nations to combat a common threat. The specter of climate change, born from a convergence of natural and human-induced events, has compelled world leaders, politicians, and capitalists to confront this pressing issue. Among the most vulnerable nations stands Iraq, and within its bounds, the Kurdistan Region grapples with the far-reaching consequences. Over 100 areas in Iraq have borne witness to devastating natural disasters due to this environmental shift.

A priority for the Ninth Cabinet

In the nascent days of the Ninth Cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a resounding focus emerged on the preservation and strategic management of water resources. This commitment has remained unwavering ever since.

Duhok Governorate, endowed with abundant water resources, previously suffered from an absence of adequate infrastructure for water storage until the advent of the Ninth Cabinet in 2019. The region’s landscape hosts an intricate network of rivers and tributaries, prominently featuring the Tigris River as its primary conduit, originating in Turkey and demarcating the Zakho Independent Administration. The Tigris bifurcates into two vital rivers: the Khabur River, an amalgam of the Hazel, Zreza, and Spnit Khabur rivers nestled between Zakho and Duhok; and the Great Zab River, comprising the Riye Shin, Zab, Zinta, Khazir, and Gumel Rivers.

Duhok Governorate predominantly relies on two pivotal water sources: snow and rainfall, which have exhibited a concerning decline in recent years, posing a substantial threat to both surface and groundwater levels; and springs and rivers, with approximately 763 springs succumbing to dryness due to prolonged drought. Mismanagement of these invaluable resources, exacerbated by economic and political factors, has further compounded the challenges faced.

Preceding the establishment of the KRG’s Ninth Cabinet, Duhok Governorate housed several dams and ponds: the Duhok Dam, boasting a capacity of 52 million cubic meters (mcm); the Keshkan Dam with a capacity of 1.2 mcm; and approximately 40 to 45 smaller ponds serving multifarious purposes.

The KRG demonstrated swift recognition of the impending threat of water scarcity and promptly prioritized water conservation. KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani underscored their focused short- and long-term strategies for water preservation and management. During the Ninth Cabinet’s tenure, a range of proactive measures have come to fruition.

New developments 

The first new water storage project, Khins Dam, was completed within a year and a half at a cost of 9.2 billion Iraqi dinars and stores 7 mcm. Meanwhile, Sbnai Dam, allocated a budget of 8 billion Iraqi dinars, was 50% completed as of the end of 2023, with a capacity exceeding 6 mcm and benefiting nearly 10 villages in the Amedi district. Lastly, Galiye Bandawa Dam, constructed at a cost of 7.5 billion Iraqi dinars, was 48% complete as of the end of 2023. Additionally, the Duhok Dam underwent a rehabilitation project, investing 441 million Iraqi dinars  and achieving 90% completion as of the end of 2023.

These dams, drawing from snowfall, rainfall, and river resources, substantially bolstered Duhok’s water storage capacity, which was previously at 53 mcm and is now poised to increase storage by over 20 mcm. Consequently, the Ninth Cabinet catalyzed enhanced agricultural production, elevated freshwater levels, and fortified groundwater resources over a span of four years. Further initiatives led to the establishment of 57 ponds across the province, amplifying the benefits for numerous villages and agricultural communities.

Future plans

The KRG’s blueprint encompasses a comprehensive master plan for small-, medium, and large-scale dam constructions. Notable planned projects include Bakurman Dam, with a projected capacity of 430 mcm; Derelok-Rashava Dam, with a projected capacity of 457 mcm, situated on the Khazir River; and Passe Dam, with a projected capacity of 77 mcm, located on the Khaburi River. These ambitious projects, primarily aimed at electricity generation, agriculture, and tourism, promise to harness river resources for the region’s advantage.

Upon the complete realization of the KRG’s water storage plan for Duhok Governorate, the region’s water supply autonomy is anticipated to soar. The projected surge in water storage capacity, from 53 mcm to over 1 billion cubic meters, signifies a monumental leap forward in addressing water security. This remarkable transformation stands as a testament to the meticulous planning and resolute actions undertaken by the KRG in fortifying the governorate against the looming threat of water scarcity.

Farhad Mohammed Director of Water Dams Directorate in Duhok Governorate – Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

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