“The released water does not even amount to 7 percent of the Zei Bchuk water,” said Mohamed Hassan, water manager in the border town of Qaladze.
Iran cut the flow of the river by 80 percent on June 22, but said on Monday that it would restore the water flow after the Kurdistan Region decreased water flows to south and central Iraq.
Hassan estimated that the water flow has decreased by 14 cubic meters per second.
Bakir Bazi, Qaladze mayor, said they were informed Monday evening by the mayor of Sardasht in Iran that they had “released an amount of water.”
“The water has entered the Kurdistan Region, but it has not reached here yet. I predict in the next few hours, it will arrive,” Bazi said.
Cutting the water “created lots of problems on humanitarian and agricultural levels and for fish-farming projects,” Bazi detailed, describing it as an “environmental disaster” for the aquatic life in the river.
Farmers were also affected, with many experiencing a shortage of water to irrigate their land. Well water levels around the Zei Bchuk area dropped “and many of them have dried up,” Bazi explained.
He said if Iranian authorities continue to block the water flow of Little Zab River, it will damage Dukan Lake, all the way down to Kirkuk city and even southern Iraqi cities.
Hassan warned that, even if Iran does fully restore the water flow, it is necessary to “have short term and long term” contingency plans.
One of the plans is to expand an existing barrier, he explained, “This barrier has to be made bigger to become a mini-dam to store water.”
To prevent future shortages, he suggested they “make a canal and a door to control the storage of water. When we have excess, we will release it. This is our current plan.”
He also urged repair work to existing water infrastructure “as soon as possible.”
Hassan would also like to see increased efforts to conserve water. He noted that 95 percent of homes in Qaladze have been fitted with water meters, “but they do not work.”
The construction of a dam on Zei Bchuk river in Iran’s Kurdish city of Sardasht to produce hydroelectric power resulted in the stem of water flow into Kurdistan Region’s border town Qaladze, leading to an 80 percent reduction of water flow into the Khas water project and depriving 80,000 people of water.
In response, the Kurdistan Region partially cut water flow to south and central Iraq. Abdulstar Majeed, minister for agriculture and water, said the decision was “forced” on them in order to provide water for Kurdistan Region citizens.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday the region is a “family” and should solve problems like dam construction while weighing its impact.
“Regional and international organisations should not be indifferent to environmental damages in Iraq and Iran caused by dam construction in neighbouring countries,” Rouhani said on Monday at the International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms.
The important region of Middle East and West Asia is a family,” said the President of the Islamic Republic. “We must aim at having a more powerful region instead being the most powerful country in the region.”