The residents of Basra Governorate, southern Iraq, face an environmental threat represented by the high salt tongue in the waters of the Shatt al-Arab, in addition to their suffering from high temperatures, which sometimes reach 51 to 53 degrees Celsius, accompanied by high humidity with fluctuations in the electric current.

And the salinity rate continued to rise significantly in some areas of Basra Governorate, exceeding the permissible specifications for use water or drinking water, as in the district of Qurna, Shaybah or Seyhan.

Al-Hassan proposes establishing stations to treat pollutants and linking them to a network of sewage to stop the flow of pollutants into the river (Al-Jazeera)

environmental disaster

The environmental expert and academic Dr. Shukri Al-Hassan says that the exposure of the Shatt al-Arab to salt waves coming from the Arabian Gulf casts a severe shadow on the environment surrounding this river, noting that the Shatt al-Arab has been subjected in recent decades to a decrease in the expenditures that feed it and the closure of the Karkheh River in its north and the Karun River in its south. On the Iranian side, which led to a significant deterioration of its water environment, in addition to the toxic pollutants being thrown into it.

Al-Hassan pointed out that the entry of salinity from the Gulf and its mixing with the pollutants present in the river itself - which come from internal channels, sewers, sewage, agricultural drains, industrial workshops and others - works to form a toxic chemical mixture and makes the water unfit for life.

The environmental expert adds that the Shatt al-Arab represents a large part of the drinking water supply for the population, especially in the center of Basra city and so on. This dangerous water contains high local concentrations and pollutants that are very dangerous to health, which is exactly what happened in the summer of 2018, when more than 100,000 citizens were injured. with intestinal infections.

To solve the problem, Al-Hassan suggests establishing stations to treat pollutants and linking them to a wide network of sewage in order to stop the flow of pollutants into the river. That Iraq should have a clear environmental policy, activate environmental legislation, legal accountability, and awareness and education campaigns in this regard.

Relevant officials in Basra while searching for a suitable place to put the submersibles and tow them to the water stations (Al-Jazeera)

water dams

Activist Riyadh Al-Eidani says that the salt tide in Basra governorate depends heavily on the amount of water releases coming from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which pass through many Iraqi governorates from the north to the south of the country, which in turn put in place a number of dams that prevented the correct access to the amount of water allocated to Basra. Hence, the governorate did not get its full water share for several years, which made the salt tide push the fresh water significantly and turn the Shatt al-Arab into a marine channel.

Al-Eidani added that the population of the Shatt Al-Arab district is approximately 650,000 people, and all these families did not have access to potable water, pointing out that the solution is to establish a “thermal” station in the Ktaiban area, which produces electrical energy of 3,000 to 5,000 megawatts. As well as large amounts of human use and an amount of salt, as this project has 3 production lines.

For his part, Adviser to the Governor of Basra, Dr. Eng. Yassin Hassan Taher, who works on the issue of water salinity, says that "the salt tongue in the Shatt al-Arab is an international file because of its connection with the issue of water releases coming from Turkey and Iran, and it is outside the local government's jurisdiction."

Taher added that the salt tide needs a move towards neighboring countries or a major intervention for these strategic projects to isolate the Shatt al-Arab from the Gulf waters, and this needs a good study to prevent the canals from being polluted.

For his part, the Director of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Basra, Mahdi Al-Tamimi, called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazimi to establish the "electrical" station in the Faw district, south of Basra, and to grant the province its rights and not to be deprived of any strategic project, and to avoid letting it struggle with a slow death.