Security

Tharthar restoration revives Anbar agriculture

By Khalid al-Taie

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The Iraqi government has been working to rehabilitate Lake Tharthar in Anbar since it was liberated from the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' last year. [Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Water Resources]

Just over a year after Iraqi forces expelled the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) from Lake Tharthar in Anbar, the Ministry of Water Resources has restored the dam and irrigation facilities to service, Iraqi officials told Mawtani.

Al-Tharthar and al-Taqsim dams, situated roughly 100 kilometres north-west of Baghdad, regulate the storage and release of water between the artificial lake and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Ministry engineering and technical personnel have rehabilitated the lake's water management system, which includes al-Tharthar dam, the first and second al-Taqsim dams and the canals stretching to the Tigris arm area, said Deputy Minister of Water Resources Mahdi Rashid.

"With exceptional daily work we have managed to repair the damage caused to these facilities by ISIL's terror gangs in a record time of only eight months," he told Mawtani.

Rehabilitation work is around 80% complete, he added, noting that the water management system is now functional and the remaining repairs are not directly connected to its operation.

"We also have completed the reconstruction campaign at a record cost, spending only around half a billion dinars ($452,000), much less than the estimated cost of the rehabilitation expenses of between three and four billion dinars ($2.7 million and $3.6 million)," he said.

Al-Tharthar dam, in operation since 1956, contains more than 30 gates for controlling water flow and has a discharge capacity of more than 8,500 cubic metres per second.

The first part of al-Taqsim dam was completed in 1976 and the second in 1981. Each contains four gates, with a total discharge capacity of 1,100 cubic metres per second.

Fallujah dam among upcoming projects

In addition to the Lake Tharthar rehabilitation, the ministry has started to rehabilitate other irrigation projects in Anbar since ISIL's ouster, Rashid said.

"We have finished assessing the damages and preparing reviews of Ramadi dam and al-Warrar, which have been blown up completely by the terrorists," he said.

The ministry has "sent letters to the government to secure sufficient funds for reconstructing those two vital facilities," he said. "We need 40 billion dinars ($34.3 million) to cover the rehabilitation costs."

Once the money has been allocated, the ministry will be able to restore the two projects to service within one year, he told Mawtani.

The ministry also has set up a technical work team to start assessing damages to Fallujah dam, which the Iraqi forces recaptured in mid-June, Rashid said.

"Initial indications suggest the dam has suffered varying degrees of damage to its gates and its combining and transferring canals," he said, adding that the scale of damage can only be accurately assessed after a comprehensive review.

"The security forces are still removing mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the site," he said. "After we are given the green light we will start working."

Reviving agricultural production in Anbar

The reconstruction of irrigation projects will revive agriculture in the province, Anbar provincial council member Farhan al-Obaidi told Mawtani.

The rehabilitation of dams and irrigation canals that have suffered from ISIL sabotage is necessary in order to restore stability in the province, he said.

Restoring water regulators and the irrigation system will revive Anbar's agriculture sector, he added, which has suffered an estimated 365 billion dinars ($313 million) in losses as a result of acts of terrorism.

"Today, after most Anbar cities have been liberated, we call on all ministries to work to reconstruct our province's economic and services sectors," al-Obaidi said. "We, for our part, will support any move in this direction and will move forward towards rebuilding our province."

The ministry "is making vigorous efforts to repair and reactivate all destroyed [water] storage and irrigation projects", said Adel al-Mokhtar, adviser to the parliamentary agriculture and water committee.

The ministry prioritises the restoration to service of all dams in liberated areas, he told Mawtani, adding that many, particularly in Anbar, already have been assessed and rehabilitated.

"Work is continuing as part of well thought out government plans focused on reinforcing growth and prosperity in communities affected by terrorism," he said.

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