Iranian officials have warned that two dams in southwestern Iran are reaching their limits and face a crisis, as several cities in the region can be inundated by floods on Friday.
Water and electricity authority in the oil-rich Khuzestan province warned March 28 that 18 villages on the path of water near Dez dam, 33 villages and three cities in Karkheh dam region and 18 villages on the banks of the Karun river must be ready for emergency evacuation.
President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Khuzestan Friday morning to observe emergency operations. The city of Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan is also threatened by floods.
A source at the office of the president has said that Rouhani’s trip takes place at the request of the energy minister and Khuzestan’s governor.
Rouhani conducted an aerial inspection of parts of the province and officials stressed that a careful management of dams and water levels is essential to prevent a disaster and manage damage.
A dangerous weather pattern is threatening Iran with a new wave of precipitation until April 2, which will hit the western and southwestern part of the country hard.
Karkheh dam is facing the most serious crisis as water has reached its maximum level. Officials say that the dam’s reservoir has reached 5.1 billion cubic meters of water and can only support another 120 million cubic meters. On Thursday, the operators of the dam increased water outflow to 600 cubic meters per second and Friday they plan to increase it to 1,000 cubic meters.
The outflow from the two affected dams can inundated nearby towns and villages and eventually reach major cities.
Rouhani has said during a speech in Khuzestan that the government will compensate the damages to farmland, which are being inundated by waters released from the dams, signalling that the government is aware that even controlled outflows can cause damages to villagers and farmers in particular.
Iran's state TV says some farmlands and fish farms have already sustained major damages in the province.
Officials also warned that the outflow from Dez might be gradually increased to 2,000 cubic meters per second in the next 48 hours to prevent a disaster for the dam. The height of the dam, built with American expertise in the 1960s, is 352 meters or 1164 feet while the water level now stands at 349 meters; just 3 meters or ten feet less than an overflow limit.
A cold and wet weather front is entering the country from the northwest while a dry and warm front is approaching from south. This increase the likelihood of heavy rainy storms, while major dams are near full capacity.