July 9, 2017
Iran has fully stopped the flow of Alwand river, which crosses the border into Iraq’s Kurdistan Region near the southern city of Khanaqin.
Ahmed Wasan, director of the Khanaqin’s Alwand dam, told Rudaw, “Every year between June 1 and October 1 since 2003, the Islamic Republic of Iran after 2003 restricts the flow of a large quantity of the Alwand because it needs the water.”
He said this water stoppage is “not political.” Iran does not cut the water flow in winter when there are heavy rains, Wasan explained. Alwand dam has the capacity to store 37 million cubic meters of water.
“Now it holds 30 million cubic meters of water,” Wasan said. “It will last until the end of the year.”
The area relies on the dam for water for drinking and irrigation. There are some 145 farms and five fish projects dependent on the water.
Wasan warned that if the river’s water is not released next year, Alwand dam will be dry in the summer months, “because to fill the dam 100 percent depends on Alwand’s water,” which comes from Iran.
Near Alwand dam, a second dam is being built. “Now we are building Qamishanin dam near Alwand dam. All of the technical work has been completed, but the Iraqi government stopped it due to financial problems,” Wasan said.
Khanaqin city is located in Diyala province and is one of the Iraq’s disputed areas under the control of Kurdish forces.
Iran has recently constructed a dam on Zei Bchuk or Little Zab River to produce hydroelectric power. This initially resulted in an 80 percent reduction of water flow to Iraqi Kurdistan. The river also feeds Dukan Lake.
In reaction to Iran’s move, Kurdistan partially cuts water flow to Iraq. Abdulstar Majeed, Kurdistan’s minister for the Agriculture and Water Resources said earlier this week that it was a decision that was “forced” on them as Iraqi Kurdistan has to provide water for its own citizens.
Iraqi Kurdistan Region sought to put pressure on Iran by reducing water flow into Iraq, with Kurdish officials saying they had to prioritize providing water for their own people.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), an Iranian opposition Kurdish party based in Iraqi Kurdistan, said on Thursday that Tehran is using bombardments on Iraqi Kurdistan border areas and closure of water from the Little Zab River to pressure the Kurdish Region to annul a referendum on independence scheduled for September 25, 2017.
The Kurdistan Region’s political parties, not including the second biggest party of Change (Gorran) Movement and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), came to an agreement on June 7 to hold a referendum on the region’s independence on September 25, 2017.
Iran has voiced its opposition to Iraqi Kurdistan independence vote.
“Iran’s principal position is to support the territorial integrity of Iraq,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.