The role of hydrology in marsh restoration in southern Iraq.
Farhan, Ali*,1, 1 Development Alternatives Inc., Bethesda, MD, USA
ABSTRACT- Presently, more than 70% of the water of Iraq comes from Turkey, Iran and Syria. Before development of hydraulic projects on both river basins, the average annual flow of the Euphrates as it entered Iraq was estimated to be 30 billion cubic meters (BCM). The average annual runoff in the Tigris River as it entered Iraq was estimated to be 21.2 BCM, with an additional 15 BCM from inside Iraq and 6 BCM from Iran. The Mesopotamian marshlands downstream of the Tigris and Euphrates have been seriously damaged during the last two decades. Dewatering of the marshlands areas for agriculture and diversion of water for political reasons contributed to devastation of the wetland ecosystem and its people. The historical marshlands are estimated to be between 15,000 - 20,000 km2 and were about 2,000 - 3,000 km2 in 2004. The success of recent restoration efforts by the government of Iraq and international donors depends on the availability of sufficient quantities of good quality water. Competing uses of river water for irrigation, municipal and industrial needs, and hydropower raise serious concern about longer-term water availability for marshes in Iraq. USAID, through the Iraqi Marshlands Restoration Program, is assisting the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources to develop a comprehensive water budget and operations model using the Reservoir System Simulation Program (HEC-ResSim). This program is designed to assist with the future management of the water resources of Iraq including the development of a reliable decision support system (DSS) for an integrated water management plan for the entire Tigris and Euphrates River Basins. Interim water management capabilities to allow operations on a real-time basis will be discussed. The implementation of the DSS is crucial for making decisions regarding the necessary water flows for revitalization of the marshlands.
Key words: marshes, Mesopotamia, Iraq, hydrology
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