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Cablegate: Kirkuk Facing Worst Water Shortage in Ten Years

VZCZCXRO9993
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1540/01 1291308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091308Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1085
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001540

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/I FOR KHOURY-KINCANNON AND INR/NESA FOR
HAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAGR ENRG IZ
SUBJECT: KIRKUK FACING WORST WATER SHORTAGE IN TEN YEARS

This is a PRT Kirkuk cable.

1. SUMMARY. (SBU) Low precipitation in Lake Dokan's
watershed means that Dokan Dam's electrical generation this
year likely will be 25 percent less than last year's and
Kirkuk faces its most serious water shortage in the last ten
years, with a significant impact on farmers in Kirkuk's
restive Arab-majority west. Dokan could increase water flow
now, but only at the expense of late-summer electrical
generation for the KRG. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -------------
LITTLE PRECIPITATION MEANS LESS ELECTRICITY FOR THE KRG...
--------------------------------------------- -------------

2. (U) One year ago, the level of Sulaymaniah's Lake Dokan
was 499 meters (approximately 55 percent of capacity), close
to normal for this time of year. This year, however, it is
only 495 meters (45 percent) due to precipitation across the
lake's watershed that was only 65 percent of the long-term
average. The Dokan Dam, which produces electricity for the
northern Iraq grid, cannot generate when the lake level falls
below 479 meters. Therefore, to produce electricity for
June-August peak season demand, dam managers must ensure that
the lake level is high enough at the beginning of the season
to sustain generation throughout it. In an average year,
Lake Dokan peaks in early June at around 504 meters (70
percent). This year, however, dam engineers expect to
achieve only about 500 meters (56 percent) by June 1.

3. (SBU) Based on historical data, the PRT Agriculture
Advisor estimates that Dokan Dam's electrical generation this
year likely will be 25 percent lower than last year's.
Moreover, to achieve even the current low lake level, dam
managers have reduced outflow at the expense of Kirkuk
province's users, who receive water from Dokan via the Dibbis
Dam. At Dibbis, the flow from Dokan (plus a smaller, natural
flow from the Lesser Zab River) is divided evenly between the
channel that serves Kirkuk city municipal and industrial
users (including the North Oil Company and affiliated
petroleum-sector companies) and the Lesser Zab, which
supplies the water and irrigation needs of Kirkuk's
agricultural, restive, Arab-majority west.

----------------------------------------
...AND A SEVERE WATER SHORTAGE IN KIRKUK
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Dokan's current daily average output is 25 cubic
meters/second. Even with the smaller flow from the Lesser
Zab added, the combined flow is not enough to meet Kirkuk's
minimum needs. As a result, Kirkuk's municipal users receive
12 hours or less of water per day. Farmers in western Kirkuk
are particularly hard hit, as moisture remains inadequate for
both the maturing fall-planted grain crop and spring-planted
crops. The PRT agriculture advisor estimates that only 20-25
percent of irrigated crops are getting sufficient water.
Arab members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council (PC) and Arab
leaders in western Kirkuk have complained to PRT officers
that the KRG is holding Lake Dokan's water "hostage" to
secure additional electricity supplies from Baghdad and
request CF assistance in increasing dam output.

5. (SBU) The PRT Agriculture Advisor projects that the
average daily outflow from Dokan for the March-May period
will be the lowest in the last ten years. He estimates that
Dokan could increase daily average outflow now to 45-50 cubic
meters/second, but that reducing the lake's peak level to do
so would reduce the dam's power generation season by a few
days at the end of summer. Heavy rains would ease the
situation, but are increasingly unlikely; the rainy season
will end soon, if it has not already.

----------------------
COMMENT: PRAY FOR RAIN
----------------------

6. (SBU) Over the last ten years -- even in dry years --
Dokan daily average output was at least 45-50 cubic
meters/second. However, demand for electricity has increased
substantially since 2003, and dam management clearly is
trying to build a water reserve to maximize electrical
generation for the northern Iraq grid later this summer.


7. (SBU) Kirkuk has been short of water the last two years,
and complaints about it have become routine. This year,
however, the pain is worse: Without significant additional

BAGHDAD 00001540 002 OF 002


rainfall or an increase in Dokan output soon, Kirkuk faces
its most serious water shortage of the last ten years. The
Dibbis Dam manager says that Dokan might increase outflow in
mid-May. However, according to the PRT Agriculture Advisor,
this would come too late for Kirkuk's farmers, who need the
water now for their maturing grain crop and spring-planted
crops. Recent heavy rains and moderate temperatures mean
that fields are still green. However, the lack of water will
begin to tell soon, when temperatures rise. Kirkuk's farmers
likely will have to get the water they need from wells using
pumps powered by scarce and expensive diesel fuel.
CROCKER

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