Photo taken on June 3, 2018 shows the exposed river bed in Tigris River in Mosul, Iraq. The water level of Tigris River has sharply decreased in Iraq. The Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi Saturday played down fears of lower level of water flow in Tigris River from neighboring Turkey. (Xinhua/Yasser Jawad)
BAGHDAD, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi Saturday played down fears of lower level of water flow in Tigris River from neighboring Turkey.
In a press conference in Baghdad, Janabi told reporters "the level of water in most areas of Iraq decreased because of natural scarcity of water due to insufficient snow cover and rain."
He said such reduction of water level "has nothing to do with relations with neighboring countries because cooperation exists between us and communication channels are opened among these countries."
However, he said that further discussions are needed with the neighboring countries.
Janabi addressed fears among many Iraqis that such water reduction could badly affect the country, saying that despite the reduction of water flow, Iraq has enough drinking water, as well as enough water to irrigate hundreds of thousands of square km of summer corps farms and orchards.
Nevertheless, Janabi urged the Iraqi people to take precautions and store water to face possible crisis.
He said that the council of ministers will hold a meeting to discuss the water and electricity crises in the country.
Turkey started to fill the reservoir of Ilisu Dam during the past two days, and immediately the water level sharply decreased in Mosul, Salahudin and the Iraqi capital Baghdad, raising fears among many Iraqis that severe draught could hit their areas and farms.
A video shared on social media showed people walking across the Tigris River in Baghdad, where the water is barely deeper than knee-level.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri called for an emergency session to be held on Sunday to discuss the water crisis with the presence of Janabi and other officials of the Water Resources Ministry.
Riyadh Ezal-Den, head of Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, told local media "the storage of water in the reservoir of the dam has reduces by more than 3 billion cubic meters compared with its level last year of more than 8 billion cubic meters."
The water reached Mosul Dam from Turkey has reduced by around half of its normal level, Ezal-Den said.
Ilisu Dam was built in 2006 on the Tigris River near the village of Ilisu. It is one of the 22 dams of the Southeastern Anatolia Project and its purpose is hydroelectric power production, flood control and water storage. When operational, the dam will support a 1,200 MW power station and will form a 10.4 billion cubic meter reservoir.
Moreover, the dams directorate of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan said in a statement on Saturday that neighboring Iran has cut the water flow of the cross-border small river of Little Zab.
The cut of water flow in the river, which is one of the five major tributaries of Tigris River, created a crisis of drinking water in the town of Qaladze and surrounding areas in Sulaimaniyah province.
Previously, Iran has constructed a dam on the Little Zab in Sardasht area and cut the water flow from time to time.