Turning red, water in Kifri reservoir may no longer be drinkable


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SULAIMANI — Turned red by mineral concentrations and pollution, concerns are growing that the water in the reservoir formed by Bawashaswar Dam in Kifri is no longer potable as the area struggles with drought conditions.

Dr. Abdulmutalib Raafat Sarhat attributed the color change to iron that has leeched out of the soil and remained behind as water levels dropped, but also said that pollution from human activity and trash dumping may also play a role.

Local residents told NRT that fifteen goats died drinking the water in the reservoir and that people were no longer consuming it, although they are still using it for irrigation.

Locals have also stopped swimming in the reservoir because the water is causing skin rashes, said Bawashaswar Dam Supervisor Aziz Karim.

The news comes as the Kurdistan Region in general, and the Garmian administration in particular, is facing a severe drought caused by scant rainfall last winter, extensive damming programs upstream in Iran and Turkey, and climate change.

The reservoir can hold up to 6 million cubic meters of water, but the water level was visibly below normal levels during a recent visit by an NRT journalist.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has responded to the drought by announcing plans to build small-scale dams like Bawashaswar, but the recent developments there may give planners pause about how to manage precious water resources.

(NRT Digital Media)