IX. Improve Water Resources Management
Strategy to provide uninterrupted water supplies;
Strategy to improve water resources; Build ministry capacity; Advance Water
The Saddam regime’s misuse and mismanagement of Iraq’s water resources left
large sections of the country with polluted waters, saline-saturated
croplands and little or no access to water resources. Although Iraq has the
oldest system of irrigation in the world, many of Iraq’s once-fertile
agricultural lands lie in waste. Population centers in Kurdistan and the
marsh areas of the south have experienced mass relocations. Iraqi farmers,
nomads, villagers and other citizens could not take full advantage of Iraq’s
abundant water resources because of excessive water loss and vital missing
components for irrigation and water supply systems.
As a whole, the former regime ignored the maintenance of the entire water
control and water distribution system within Iraq. While raw water resources
are plentiful in the north, the distribution to dryer areas and the
treatment of these resources need attention.
The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), formerly the Ministry of Irrigation,
is the bulk water supplier for the nation. The Ministry’s 9 large dams, 18
major barrages, and 275 pump stations comprise one of the most complex water
distribution systems in the world. Over 90 percent of the nation’s water is
used to irrigate 3.25 million hectares of land throughout Iraq. Mechanical
equipment, such as pump stations and back up generators, are 20 to 30 years
old and poorly maintained. Fewer than 60 percent of the system’s 1,200
individual pumps operate.
The freshwater marshes of Iraq once produced 65% of the nation’s supply of
edible fish. Now, only 10% of the original 20,000 square kilometers of marsh
remain, mostly in the 1,500 square kilometer Al Hawiyah marsh on the Iranian
border. 90% of the water in Iraq is used for agriculture. Water for marsh
restoration must come from the efficiencies gained in agricultural
irrigation. The Ministry will take the lead in coordinating Marsh
restoration efforts, including establishment of a center for Marsh
Restoration to coordinate national and international efforts.
The Ministry of Water Resources manages water resource for the citizens of
Iraq. As a steward of this vital resource, the Ministry strives to balance
competing demands of irrigation, municipal and industrial water supply,
hydropower, flood control, and environmental requirements, including marsh
restoration. The Ministry also manages groundwater resources and supplies
water to rural customers. The Ministry operates 25 major dams and barrages
and 275 pump stations. The Ministry produces 17% of Iraq’s electricity,
irrigates 3.25 million hectares of land, and has 12,000 employees.
CPA partners are undertaking activities to:
· Increase capacity and efficiency of water delivery and use through
rehabilitation of old operating irrigation and drainage systems
· More than double the prewar amount of water available to the villages and
herdsmen of western Iraq who suffer from water shortages.
· Provide immediate and future generating capacity
· Benefit the agricultural community by improving the efficiency and
reliability of water use to increase crop production.
· Reduce high salinity return flows into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
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