Work is under way to restore and rehabilitate Mosul Dam in Ninawa province following its recapture from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), the Iraqi government said last week.
The dam, the biggest in the country, provides electricity to more than 1 million people and suffered serious damage when ISIL seized it, officials say. Supported by international coalition airplanes, Iraqi army and Kurdish forces regained control of the dam and surrounding towns in August.
The Ministry of Water Resources has begun repairing the damages ISIL caused in co-operation with the Electricity Ministry and other concerned ministries in the Kurdish regional government said Ali Hashem Kataa, general director of the ministry's Public Authority for Irrigation Projects.
These parties held initial collaboration meetings in mid-January -- led by Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nouri Shawis -- and agreed to establish a joint ministerial committee to convene weekly to monitor rehabilitation of the dam's damaged facilities, and to operate it regularly at full capacity, he told.
"The dam is in good, reassuring condition in general," he said. "Its body is strong and concrete is constantly being poured to make it more solid."
The dam's power generation station "is also in good condition, but there is damage to some of the energy transmission units that operate the dam", he said. When ISIL gunmen seized the dam they sabotaged and destroyed its electricity pylon and power lines, weakening its ability to facilitate water pumping in the Tigris as well as its generation capacity, according to Kataa.
"We have agreed upon ways with the security authorities with which to provide adequate protection to the experts and technical personnel assigned with the repair mission," he said, stressing that the dam and its surrounding areas are currently secure.
In its regular meeting January 20th, the Iraqi government decided to allocate 10 billion dinars ($8.6 million) to fund the Mosul Dam rehabilitation project.
The government said in a statement it had instructed the Finance Ministry to transfer an initial 1 billion dinars ($860,000) in funds to the Ministry of Water Resources, with the understanding that the rest of the funds will follow when that money becomes available.
Mosul Dam, completed in 1986 on the Tigris River (some 50 kilometers north of the city of Mosul), has a total storage capacity of around 13 million cubic meters of water and total electricity generation capacity of 772 megawatts. Electricity Ministry spokesman Musab al-Mudarres said the dam currently generates less than 100 megawatts.
This happened because some of the dam's generation units stopped following attacks on its power supply facilities, he added.
"As part of its work, the ministry will raise the dam's power production by preparing power lines and towers and reactivating generation units at the secondary stations and main supply station, achieving an initial production of at least 350 megawatts," he told.
"The ministry formed a specialized technical team to assess the dam's electricity-related damages, as well as the measures needed to complete the rehabilitation project in co-operation with other supporting government agencies," he said, noting that Electricity Ministry engineering and technical personnel are continuing their work of operating the dam.
"There have been fears and a real risk to the dam's safety when ISIL gangs took control of it," parliamentary agriculture and water committee adviser Adel al-Mukhtar told.
"However, these fears dissipated once the security forces were able to drive the terrorists from this vital site, which only suffered serious damage in some parts, and not very worrying ones," he added. "Experts and technical personnel will repair it in joint work efforts."
Al-Mukhtar said the dam's engineers and technicians have renewed their routine maintenance work, while concrete skips at the bottom of the dam are working around the clock to reinforce the gypsum soil on which the dam is built and ensure its stability.
Once rehabilitation is complete, "incoming water levels will rise above the dam's current level of 319 meters in order to increase its efficiency, storing capacity and power generation capacity", he said.