The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will raise Dahla Dam in southern Afghanistan by 25ft (7.6m).
Dahla Dam was completed in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan in 1952, however the network of its irrigating canals across Kandahar province has been silted and left in ruins due to three decades of war and neglect.
USACE is entering phase 1 of a two-phase project to raise the dam in a bid to boost the dam’s reservoir capacity and increase water for irrigation and consumption, the Water Power Magazine reported.
Construction of a new valve house and extension of the outlet tunnel is also included in the project which is scheduled to be completed on July 2015 while the phase 2, the actual raising of the dam is scheduled for 2017 completion.
The dam was surrounded by mines which have been cleared by USACE to allow phase one work to be carried out.
According to estimates, the reservoir’s capacity has been reduced by one-third to one-half due to sediment. The reservoir is depleted towards the end of most summers, leaving little for people or farmers downstream.
Officials in Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority (HAVA) said the water supply doesn’t even reach 30% of irrigation canals refurbished by the Canadian International Development Agency over the past several years.
USACE Kandahar Resident Office officer in charge Maj. Jeffery Ward said, “The Canadians rehabilitated many of the irrigation canals south of Dahla Dam as part of their Arghandab Irrigation Rehabilitation Project.”
“Projects like those by the Canadians, those of other countries and the U.S. all interconnect. Once we complete phase two, these projects will all come together and greatly increase irrigation and drinking water in Southern Afghanistan,” Maj. Jeffery Ward said.
Boosting Dahla Dam reservoir capacity will have a widespread effect as Arghandab canal, southern Arghandab canal, Baba Wali canal and the south and north Tarnak canals carry water from the Dahla Dam reservoir.
The Arghandab River divides into 55 streams and the canals divide into an additional 55 streams, irrigating lands across Afghanistan’s agricultural heartland.
According to Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority (HAVA) officials, the dam now irrigates nearly 98,000 acres of land, but when completed, those numbers should increase to 150,000 acres.
Raising the dam will also help supply Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar, which has a population of about 500,000 people.