Engineer insists Mosul Dam not in danger despite heavy rain

Weak foundations, war-damage, and neglect have long made Iraq’s biggest dam 50 km north of Mosul a pressing concern. The dam’s chief engineer has denied claims this week that recent torrential rain has left the structure vulnerable.

Earlier this week, Nusrat Jamal from Mosul Civil Defence told Iraq’s al-Sabah newspaper that water discharged from Mosul Dam is causing damage to bridges downstream, indicating the structure is struggling to withstand the huge volume of water.

Water “discharged from the Mosul Dam gates has damaged Hurra Bridge in Mosul and that is now out of service,” Jamal told the paper.

The dam’s chief engineer Riaz Niaemi responded to the claims Saturday, insisting the structure is discharging water at a normal rate.

“The release of water from the dam is going as normal and we have controlled it,” Niaemi told al-Sabah.

“Water is being released through the dam gates and there is no danger to it,” he added.

Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have seen a week of intense downpours, causing flash flooding in urban areas and damage to roads and bridges as rivers burst their banks.

Mosul Dam is considered especially vulnerable to weather extremes. Various international teams have been working to stabilize the structure since 2003.

If Mosul Dam fails, cities along the length of the Tigris River to the Persian Gulf could suffer inundation – including the capital Baghdad.

Iraq now has 32 billion cubic meters of water stored in its reservoirs – sufficient to water Iraq for the next two summers.

Mosul Dam, which has the capability to store 10 billion cubic meters of water, has alone stored eight billion on the Tigris River, despite serious concerns about its structural integrity, according to Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi.

Extra water has cascaded downstream, compelling the Iraqi government to take measures to prevent further flooding.

Mosul Dam is currently being renovated and restored by an Italian company since it was briefly seized by Islamic State militants in 2014.

According to AFP, the Italian Trevi conglomerate has a $2 billion contract to shore-up the dam. Source