Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Quality of Surface Water and Groundwater in Iraq

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  • Abstract

    Insufficiency of water resources in the Middle East Region represents vital factors that influence the stability of the region and its progress. Expectations indicate that the condition will be dimmer and more complicated, especially in Iraqi territory. Iraq, which is situated in the Middle East, it covers an area of 433,970 square kilometers and populated by about 32 million inhabitants. Iraq greatly relies in its water resources on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers as a surface water resources, and several productive groundwater aquifers in which from the hydrogeological point of view divided into several major aquifer units including Foothill, Al-Jazira, Aquifer System, Mandali-Badra-Teeb, Mesopotamian and Desert Aquifer system. Recently, Iraq is suffering from water shortage problems. This is due to external and internal factors affecting the water quality of water resources; they are controlled and uncontrolled factors. The uncontrolled factors are climate change and its consequences, such as reduction of precipitation and temperature increasing. The controlled factors have a significantly negative influence on water resources, but their effects involve more specific regions. The controlled factors are mainly represented by building dams and irrigation projects within the upper parts of the Tigris and Euphrates catchments, Al-Tharthar Scheme, waste water, solid wastes and wastes from wars, which has a significant effect on surface water in Iraq because about 80% of the water supply to Euphrates and Tigris Rivers come from Turkey. In addition, the pressures resulting from the high demand for water resources, and the continued decline in their quantity rates have led to major changes in the hydrological condition in Iraq during the past 30 years. The decrease in surface water levels and precipitation during these three decades reflects the drop in the levels of water reservoirs, lakes, and rivers to the unexpected levels. The level of main country’s water source, Tigris, and Euphrates Rivers has fallen to less than a third of its natural levels. As storage capacity depreciates, the government estimates that its water reserves have been reduced precariously. According to the survey from the Ministry of Water Resources, millions of Iraqi people have faced a severe shortage of drinking water. Since of the importance of water for human life and the need to monitor temporal and spatial changes in quality and quantity, there is a need to develop a general Iraqi Water Quality Index (Iraq WQI) to monitor surface water and groundwater and classify it into five categories, very good, good, acceptable, bad and very bad, in terms of suitability for domestics, irrigation and agriculture depending on the Iraqi and WHO standards for drinking water. In addition, strict establishment for the regular quantitative monitoring surface water and groundwater setting and processes. Prospects are more negative for all riparian countries. This implies that solving these problems requires actual and serious international, regional, and national cooperation to set a prudent plan for water resources management of the two basins. Iraq being the most affected country should seriously set a prudent, scientific, and strategic plan for the management and conservation of its water resources.

     Keywords: Pollution, Water Quality, Waste, Surface water, Groundwater, Iraq.