Management of Water Resources in Iraq: Perspectives and Prognoses
Nadhir A. Al-Ansari
Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources and Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden
Received April 19, 2013; revised May 19, 2013; accepted May 26, 2013
Keywords: Water Management; Iraq; Water Resources of Iraq
Iraq is one of the Middle East and North African countries (MENA region). The country is currently facing a serious water shortage problem. This problem is expected to be more severe in the future where the supply is predicted to be 43 and 17.61 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) in 2015 and 2025 respectively while current demand is estimated to be between 66.8 and 77 BCM. It has been estimated that the Tigris and Euphrates river discharges will continue to decrease with time, and they will be completely dry by 2040. Serious, prudent and quick measures need to be taken to overcome this problem. The government should take measures to have a strategic water management vision, including regional cooperation and coordination, research and development, improving agriculture and sanitation sector as well as public awareness program. These measures are required in order to address the following topics: Strategic Water Management Vision, Regional cooperation and coordination, Irrigation and Agriculture, Water Supply and Sanitation, and Research and Development.
Middle East and North African countries (MENA region) are considered to be arid or semi-arid as the average annual rainfall does not exceed 166 mm [1,2]. For this reason, the scarcity of water resources in the MENA region, and particularly in the Middle East, represents an extremely important factor in the stability of the region and an integral element in its economic development and prosperity [3-5]. Future predictions suggest more severe shortages to be expected both in surface and groundwater resources [6-9]. Due to the presence of Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Iraq was considered relatively rich in its water resources compared to its neighboring countries until the 1970s. During the 1970s Syria and Turkey started to construct dams on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers which caused a major decrease in the flow of the Euphrates River  as well as deterioration of the quality of its water . This fact highlighted a further concern over future water quotas and its alarming implications upon the national security and strategies.
Iraq is located in the eastern part of the MENA region. It is surrounded by Iran in the east, Turkey to the north, Syria and Jordan to the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south and the Gulf to the southeast .The total area of Iraq is 438,320 km2 of which 924 km2 of inland water.
The population is about 20.4 million (1995) with a growth rate of 3.6% (1980-1990). About 25% of the inhabitants live in rural areas. The population density ranges from 5 to 170 inhabitants/km2 in western desertic and the central part from the country respectively. This rate had dropped since 1989 due to severe economic hardship . To pographically; Iraq is shaped like a basin containing the great Mesopotamian plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The climate is mainly of a continental, subtropical semi-arid type with the north and northeastern mountainous regions having a Mediterranean climate . The temperature during summer is usually over 430˚C during July and August and drops down to 20˚C and 160˚C during the day and night respectively in winter time
Meteorological records were used to calculate the evaporation and evapotranspiration values using the Penman method. The results show that the overall average evaporation and evapotranspiration are of the order of 1900 mm per year .
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