Darbandikhan


The River Where Sewage and Drinking Water Mix

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Dashty Ali.

Dealing With The Iraqi River Where Sewage And Drinking Water Mix

Every day litres of waste water and even sewage end up in the rivers and lakes, that are the main source of drinking water for one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s biggest cities.

It is as if the government was bombing Halabja with chemical weapons every day, says Salih Najib Majid, an assistant professor specializing in environmental science. “People’s lives are in danger,” says the specialist who works in the faculty of agricultural sciences at the University of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Majid is talking about the fact that sewage from many of the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah’s neighbourhoods is dumped into the Tanjaro river, which runs south of the city. Also flowing into the river are different kinds of waste water, everything from industrial to agricultural waste.

The Tanjaro’s waters originate south of the city, from a confluence of two streams and other small tributaries near Kani Goma. There are several industrial sites in this area as well as oil refineries and many of these discharge their waste water into the river too. Pollutants like mercury, lead, cadmium and nitrates have been found in the water.

“Dumping waste in the Tanjaro area results in the creation of dangerous liquids that have more negative health impacts than even ordinary sewage,” says Nabil Musa, a 40-year-old local of Sulaymaniyah, the only Iraqi member of the international organization, the Waterkeeper’s Alliance, based in New York. The organization’s objective “is drinkable and fishable, swimmable water everywhere”.

For years, locals have observed things like mass fish deaths in places like Darbandikhan lake. “The reason for the die-off is the contaminated water,” Musa tells NIQASH.

At the same time, others in the area engaged in farming and agriculture in nearby areas are using the same water to irrigate crops and feed animals. This means that eventually the dangerous elements in the water work their way down the food chain, until they reach local people.

“The water that is used for irrigation should be assessed to make sure it meets acceptable international standards,” says Majid, the environmental scientist. “Not all water should be used for irrigation. Unfortunately,” he continues, “the local government is not paying any attention to these problems.”

The waste water continues to make its way through Iraqi Kurdistan’s waterways and Majid says that the water containing sewage eventually meets the main sources of drinking water for locals in the Darbandikhan and Kalar areas.

Rebwar Ahmad, who heads the health and environment committee on the Sulaymaniyah provincial council, says authorities are trying to do something to deal with the problem. A report has been prepared about the mixture of fresh water and sewage and it has been submitted to the concerned authorities, he says. As for the industrial waste, he concedes that his committee is constantly getting reports of pollution infringements. But they have been unable to control the factories, he says.

The regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan has made the management of waste water and sewage part of its plan for 2020. The plan also talks about negating the damage being done by landfills to local water waterways.

“One company has been given a US$400 million contract to try and solve the problems at Tanjaro and the project design has been finalized,” Masoud Kaka Rash, the head of the water and sewage department in Iraqi Kurdistan, says reassuringly. “And work on a US$20 billion drinking water refinery in Darbandikhan  has already started too – 85 percent of the work on that has been completed,” he says.

Evaluating Darbandikhan and Dokan Dams following Earthquake

A joint team from the World Bank and the Ministry of Water Resources visited Sulaimaniyah Province to assess the impact of the recent earthquake that hit the Iraq-Iran border on the Darbandikhan and Dokan [Dukan] Dams. Both dams are very strategic. They were built in 1961 for flood control, irrigation, drinking water supply and later power generation was added.

Concerns about the safety and management of these two dams were raised after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Iraq-Iran border on November 12, centered 30 km southwest of Halabjah in Iraqi Kurdistan, around 217 km northeast of Baghdad.

At the request of H.E. Dr. Haider Al-Abadi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, the World Bank mobilized a technical support mission to carry out a fact-finding assessment of the damage the earthquake has inflicted on the Darbandikhan and Dokan dams.

“We highly value the partnership between the Government of Iraq and the World Bank office in Baghdad and we appreciate the Bank’s prompt response and cooperation in answering the Ministry’s request for assistance in dealing with this emergency,” commented H.E. Hassan Al Janabi, Minister of Water Resources.

The objective of the Bank mission is to support the Ministry of Water Resources in preparing a detailed diagnostic of the damage that has been caused by the recent earthquake, reviewing the emergency preparedness plan, and preparing an action plan for managing the dams.

The mission found that the dam operator and the technical staff of the Ministry of Water Resources are managing the post-earthquake situation in a highly satisfactory manner. The extent of the further technical support needed will be based on the mission’s findings.

“The World Bank is working hand in hand with the Government of Iraq teams at the dam locations in carrying out a deep dive assessment of the damage caused by the earthquake and putting together a rehabilitation plan to address immediate and longer term concerns,” said Yara Salem, World Bank Iraq Country Manager.

(Source: UN)

Video: Earthquake Damages Diyala River Dam

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Engineers in northern Iraq are carrying out repairs on a vital dam damaged by the earthquake that also devastated areas in neighbouring Iran.

The dam, which provides water and electricity to about two million people, risks breaking and unleashing disastrous flooding.

More than 500 people were killed and about 70,000 were displaced after the deadliest earthquake of the year struck a border region between Iran and Iraq.

Al Jazeera‘s Sinem Koseoglu reports from Darbandikhan:

No Dams Damaged in Yesterday’s Earthquake

By John Lee.

The Supreme National Committee for Water has confirmed that no dams were damaged in yesterday’s earthquake.

Following a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi, the committee siad it has been instructed to continue monitoring Darbandakhan dam to ensure the safety of its basic structure.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

Gazprom ‘Forced to Quit Halabja Block’

By John Lee.

Rudaw reports that Russia’s Gazprom Neft has been forced to halt operations at its Halabja block following demonstrations by hundreds of protestors from 34 villages around the town of Darbandikhan.

According to the report, the protesters have given the oil company until 20th October to stop all exploration activity, claiming that “scientific evidence shows work conducted by this company is lethal and damages the environment, air, water wells and springs – and such changes are irreversible.

They also demand that all oil companies leave the region and that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) drop its drive for independent oil exports, insisting that it should focus instead on tourism and agriculture.

Gazprom Neft is involved in three projects in the Region – Shakal, Garmian and Halabja – and estimated geological reserves for all three are more than 1.3 billion tonnes of oil. In the Halabja block, the company is conducting geological surveys.

(Source: Rudaw)

Gazprom ‘Forced to Quit Halabja Block’

By John Lee.

Rudaw reports that Russia’s Gazprom Neft has been forced to halt operations at its Halabja block following demonstrations by hundreds of protestors from 34 villages around the town of Darbandikhan.

According to the report, the protesters have given the oil company until 20th October to stop all exploration activity, claiming that “scientific evidence shows work conducted by this company is lethal and damages the environment, air, water wells and springs – and such changes are irreversible.

They also demand that all oil companies leave the region and that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) drop its drive for independent oil exports, insisting that it should focus instead on tourism and agriculture.

Gazprom Neft is involved in three projects in the Region – Shakal, Garmian and Halabja – and estimated geological reserves for all three are more than 1.3 billion tonnes of oil. In the Halabja block, the company is conducting geological surveys.

(Source: Rudaw)