Mosul Dam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mosul Dam
Mosul Dam USACE NWD.jpg
Location 45 mi north of Mosul, Ninawa Governorate, Iraq
Coordinates 36°37′49″N 42°49′23″E / 36.63028°N 42.82306°E / 36.63028; 42.82306Coordinates: 36°37′49″N 42°49′23″E / 36.63028°N 42.82306°E / 36.63028; 42.82306
Construction began 1980
Opening date 1986
Construction cost US$1.5 billion
Operator(s) Ministry of Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Dam and spillways
Impounds Tigris River
Height 113 m (371 ft)[1]
Length 3.4 km (2.1 mi)
Spillways 2
Spillway type Service: Controlled chute
Emergency: Fuse-plug ogee
Spillway capacity Service: 13,000 m3/s (460,000 cu ft/s)
Emergency: 4,000 m3/s (140,000 cu ft/s)
Total capacity 11,100,000,000 m3 (8,998,916 acre·ft)
Active capacity 8,100,000,000 m3 (6,566,777 acre·ft)
Normal elevation 300 m (980 ft)
Power station
Commission date Mosul 1: 1986
Mosul 2: 1985
Mosul 3: 1989
Turbines Mosul 1: 4 x 187.5 MW Francis-type
Mosul 2: 4 x 15.5 Kaplan-type
Mosul 3: 2 x 120 MW Francis pump-turbine[2][3]
Installed capacity 1,052 MW
Annual generation 3,420 million kWh

Mosul Dam (Arabic سد الموصل) or Chambarakat Dam, formerly known as Saddam Dam (Arabic,سد صدام), is the largest dam in Iraq. It is located on the Tigris River in the western governorate of Ninawa, upstream of the city of Mosul. The hydroelectric dam holds, at full capacity, about 11.1 cubic kilometres (2.7 cu mi) of water and provides electricity to the 1.7 million residents of Mosul. The dam's main 750 MW power station contains four 187.5-MW Francis turbine-generators. A pumped-storage hydroelectricity power plant with a capacity of 240 MW and a run-of-the-river dam downstream with a 62 MW capacity also belong to the Mosul Dam scheme. It is ranked as the fourth largest dam in the Middle East, measured by reserve capacity, capturing snowmelt from Turkey, some 70 miles (110 km) north.[4] Built on a karst foundation, concerns over the dam's instability have led to major remediation and rehabilitation efforts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


Historical Castle of Aski Mosul before being submerged by the dam's reservoir

In order to bolster Saddam Hussein's regime during the Iran-Iraq War and promote Saddam's Arabization efforts in Northern Iraq, the construction of the Mosul Dam was important. Construction on the Mosul Dam began in 1980 by a German-Italian consortium that was led by Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft. Because the dam was constructed on a foundation of soluble gypsum, the engineers installed a grouting gallery that would allow continuous grouting of the dam's foundation in order to promote stability. Construction was complete in 1984 and in the Spring of 1985, the Mosul Dam began to inundate the Tigris River, filling the reservoir which submerged many archaeological sites in the region. Due to significant structural stability issues associated with the Mosul Dam, grouting and additional construction and repairs are constant.[5][6]

Instability and remediation[edit]

The earthen embankment dam is located on top of gypsum, a soft mineral which dissolves in contact with water. Continuous maintenance is required to plug, or "grout" new leaks with a liquefied slurry of cement and other additives.[7] More than 50,000 tonnes (49,000 long tons; 55,000 short tons) of material have been injected into the dam since leaks began forming shortly after the reservoir was filled in 1986, and 24 machines currently continuously pump grout into the dam base. A September 2006 report by the United States Army Corps of Engineers noted, "In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world." The report further outlined a worst-case scenario, in which a sudden collapse of the dam would flood Mosul under 65 feet (20 m) of water and Baghdad, a city of 7 million, to 15 feet (5 m), with an estimated death toll of 500,000.[8] A report on 30 October 2007 by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said that the dam's foundations could give way at any moment.[9]

In 2004, dam manager Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub ordered the dam's water level, which can reach 330 feet (101 m) above sea level, to have a maximum of 319 feet (97 m), thus reducing the pressure on the structure. Nevertheless, Iraqi officials maintain that the U.S. government is overstating the risk. The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed that the Badush Dam under construction downstream be expanded to obstruct the large wave which would result if the Mosul Dam collapsed. This has been resisted by Iraqi officials, who note that the current plan for the Badush Dam is US$300 million to provide hydroelectric power and help irrigation while the proposed expansion would cost $10 billion.[8]

In 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed and executed a US$27 million plan to help continue maintenance and repairs on the dam in the short-term. The Iraq Government is implementing a long-term solution with includes the construction of 67 m (220 ft) deep walls around the dam foundation. The ongoing project is expected to cost $4 billion and last four to five years.[5] The Iraq Government is implementing a long-term solution to the problem by constructing 67 m (220 ft) deep walls underground around the foundation. As of 2011 the project is expected to last four to five more years and cost $4 billion.[10]

Demolition concerns during the 2003 invasion[edit]

Chute spillway with ski jump section to dissipate the energy of the rushing water.

In early April 2003, following the invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition, military intelligence had developed several scenarios, including one in which Iraqi forces had wired the dam for detonation. This would, like a dam collapse, release the 110-metre (360 ft) high waterline of the lake reservoir, to reach Mosul in about two hours. Subsequent investigation found nearly 500 dam workers to still be at work nearly a month after pay had stopped being distributed, with security being provided by militia under the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.[4]

Richard A. Muller, a physician and JASON Defense Advisory Group consultant on U.S. national security wrote:

His troops arrived at the huge Mosul dam to blow it up – but our military (with decisive help from local Iraqis) prevented them from doing so.


See also[edit]

Map (in French) with Mosul Dam in the north under its former name of "Saddam"

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Iraqi Dam Assessments". Iraq: United States Army, Corps of Engineers. 6 June 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Mosul Multipurpose Development Iraq". Poyry. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Electrical Power Stations in Iraq". Arab Union of Electricity. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Iraqi Dam Has Experts On Edge Until Inspection Eases Fears" by Andrew G. Wright, Engineering News-Record, 5 May 2003
  5. ^ a b Saddam's Damn Dam
  6. ^ Worries grow over Mosul Dam
  7. ^ "Mosul Dam Repairs Benefit Tigris Basins",, September 2005
  8. ^ a b "Iraqi Dam Seen In Danger of Deadly Collapse" by Amit R. Paley, The Washington Post, October 30, 2007
  9. ^ "Iraq dismisses Mosul Dam warnings" BBC news article BBC, October 31, 2007
  10. ^ al-Taie, Khalid (4 August 2011). "Iraq finalizes contracts to repair Mosul Dam". Mawtani. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Technology Review Online (MIT)