Khanaqin's iconic bridge over the Alwand River. Photo: Rezgar Khanaqini
KHANAQIN, Kurdistan Region – Iran has fully stopped the flow of Alwand river, which crosses the border into the 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 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.
Earlier this week, Iranian officials said they would restore the waters of the Zei Bchuk
, or Little Zab River, after cutting it in June. The 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.