Adventure Travel

Is Mosul Doomed?

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Image:Naeblys/shutterstock

In Mosul, a flood is coming. The Mosul Dam, built in 1984 over the Tigris River, provides power to much of Iraq. However, there are increasing concerns among the engineers involved in its construction that it will soon fail. In fact, according to many, it is not a matter of if but when, and the Iraqi Government has done little to address the issue.

Concerns were first raised about the dam in the 50’s when the project was conceived and abandoned because the bedrock in the region is too water soluble for a dam to be sustainable. Nahdir-Al Ansari, an engineer involved in its construction said recently,  “I went to visit the site and saw what kind of stone there was there. A lot of gypsum and anhydrite, which are very soluble. I was really concerned; I told the director general. He said: ‘Don’t worry. This is all being taken care of.’”

By all account this problem was never truly addressed. During the regime of Saddam Hussein, the project was ordered forward to enhance the national prestige of Iraq, possibly at the cost of the lives of its citizens. The soluble bedrock has, unsurprisingly, eroded during the course of the past thirty years. The result is an increasingly unstable dam which could loose its billions of gallons of water into the Tigris river valley. The water would completely inundate the city of Mosul, which has a population of more than a million people.

The problem is all the more pressing as the city has been occupied by forces of Islamic State since 2014. This has made a government response nigh impossible. At the moment the best plan is to order the people of Mosul to evacuate into the higher grounds around the city. It’s not a great solution, since it is the equivalent of ordering a major city to pack up and move, and understandably, few have done so.

The failure of the dam is inevitable as it stands, and projections are that it may cost the lives of more than a million people. Unless something significant is done, and soon, a tragedy of monumental proportions will soon be the result.

What do you think? Is Mosul doomed? What can be done to prevent this disaster? Let us know in the comments.

Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can follow him on Twitter @WyattRedd.