The total capacity of all the dams across the region is 10 billion cubic meters of water. There are currently 13 dam projects under construction and 27 more are in the study and design phase. The Farmers Union believes that controlling the water resources of Kurdistan should be a priority for the KRG and at the top of their strategic plans.
Kurdistan is rich with over ground and underground water and has a lot of rivers and springs. There are a number of large rivers in Kurdistan, which after passing through various areas of the Region, continue to other provinces in Iraq. However, just a few hundred meters from these rivers, draught is threatening the farmlands and farmers, livelihoods.
The region has vast fertile lands that are mainly irrigated by rain water, but draught in the past few years has forced the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to think of constructing dams and making use of its water resources.
Director General of Dams and Water Storages Engineer, Akram Ahmed Rasul, explains that there are currently 13 dams under construction as well as a number of large dam projects in the government's 2012 budget including Gomaspan, Bawanoor, Basara and Rawanduz, three of which are ready for implementation with a budget allocated to them. Moreover, there are a number of other projects that have been designed and budgeted in the 2011 budget.
Rasul's Directorate General was established in 2007 and received a specific budget in 2009.
Rasul argues that water is more important than oil and says that if the Region's water resources are used effectively and dams are constructed, they can improve the agriculture sector and the Region can reach self-sufficiency in terms of certain food products such as wheat, barley and others.
Kurdistan's lands and weather are very good for agriculture and it is used to export some agricultural products to other provinces of Iraq and even other countries.
The destructive policy of the Baathist Regime, which was brought to an end in 2003, destroyed the majority of the Region's villages and relocated their inhabitants into forceful refugee camps. This significantly impacted the agriculture infrastructure of the region.
KRG has developed various plans for the development of the agriculture sector and has achieved significant improvements in some aspects, but the negative impacts of the acts of the Baathist Regime have still not been fully removed.
Nawzad Mahmoud, Head of Kurdistan Farmers, Union, argues that KRG has been negligent regarding water and agriculture issues and believes that the water demand in the region for agriculture and drinking is slightly more than the 50% of the water it has.
Considering the draught and the threats it poses on agriculture, the Union reiterates the urgent need for controlling the region's water resources and making maximum use of them.
Issues that the Union believes that should be given priority by the government include construction of large and small dams, and water transportation facilities and concreting the water passages in the farms.
There are currently 8 dams in the Region that have been completed and have water storage capacity, including Dokan Dam, Darbandikhan Dam and Harawa Dam in Suleimaniya Province, Bawashaswar and Hassan Kanoosh dams in Garmian, Hamomok in Erbil Province and Duhok and Kashkan Dams in Duhok Province.
The water storage capacity of the Dokan Dam is 6.8 billion cubic meters; Darbanidkhan is 3 billion cubic meters, Duhok 52 million cubic meters. And the aggregate capacity of all the other 5 dams is 7 million cubic meter of water, approximately 1/864 of the capacity of Dokan Dam.
Dams under construction
The new projects that are currently under construction have an aggregate capacity of 87.47 million cubic meters of water, which is less than 1% of the capacity of Dokan Dam.
Aqoyan, Jali and Razga Dwen in Erbil; Banooi Talaban and Degala in Koya; Awa Spi, Surqashan and Dewana in Suleimaniya, Xornawazan and Qadir Karam in Garmain; Shiwa Soor in Kirkuk as well as Khanas and Bedoohi in Duhok, are currently under construction.
The design of a number of other dams
Projects such as Nazaneen, Balayan, Shargha, Chamrga and Kodara in Erbil, Sartk on the Smaller Zab, Kazhak in Sidakan, Rawanduz Dam on a branch of the Greater Zab, Derana, Shiwarash, Shiwashok, Shawger, Balk, Zelan, Hashazine, Chami Rookhana, Chaq Chaq II, Khewata, Qaziawa, Bardasoor and Delga in Suleimaniya; Bawanoor in Garmian, Bidool and Basi on the Khabur River, Khlin, Kurka, Sibna II and Gali Bandawa in Duhok are respective dam projects that are in the design and study phase, forming 27 projects in total.
According to Rasul, there are a number of other dams similar to the Dokan Dam with a few differences, planned to be implemented in the future such as Taq Taq Dam, Mandawa, Bardasoor and Bawanoor.
Mandawa, on the Greater Zab River will have a capacity of 200 million cubic meters, and Bardasoor on the Sirwan River will have a 150 million cubic meter capacity.
Bawanoor Dam will be located on the south of Darbandikhan Dam with 21 meters height and 300 million cubic meter capacity. This dam can generate 50 megawatts of electricity.
The process of constructing dams and controlling water resources in the Region started three years ago, and the Arabs and Region's neighbors have been opposing the idea, but according to Rasul his government does not abandon its plans due to these opposition and they will continue to control their water resources.
Increasing underground water levels, storing water, irrigation, fishery, tourism and power are among major objectives of the majority of the dams, while in some places dams are used to control and prevent floods as well as providing drinking water.
Dokan Dam was constructed on the Smaller Zab River between the years 1954 and 1959 by a French company. It lies 60 kilometers northwest of Suleimaniya.
King Faisal put the cornerstone of the dam. King Faisal Put an Iraqi Dinar coin in the cornerstone as a sign of his era. The dam cost 14 million Iraqi Dinars of that time, at a time when a worker was receiving IQD 0.25 per day.
The height of the dam wall is 116.5 meters, the length is 260 meters. The dam is 516 meters above sea level. The area of the lands irrigated by the dam is 11,690 square kilometers.
The dam has a capacity of 6.8 billion cubic meters.
The Russian Hydro Power Station Company (HPS) constructed a power plant on the dam in the year 1970, which can produce 400 megawatts of electricity.
The source of Dokan Dam's water comes from the Smaller Zab and that of Darbandikhan comes from Sirwan River. The sources of Bawashaswar, Hamamok and Hassan Kanoosh are spring water and the Duhok Dam water comes from rain, while Kashkan dam water comes from a seasonal river.