Qargha (Dari: بند قرغه) is a dam and reservoir in Afghanistan near Kabul. The reservoir and its peripheral areas provide for recreation facilities such as boating, surfing, golfing, etc. and has a hotel on its bank. There is a fishery development in the reservoir supported by a hatchery on its banks. Irrigation and hydropower developments have also been planned from the stored waters of the reservoir.
The dam was built in 1933. It has a height of 30 metres (98 ft). The dam length is 450 metres (1,480 ft) and top width is 8 metres (26 ft). A sluice gate of the dam which was damaged has since been restored. The reservoir water spread area behind the dam is 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres). The reservoir was developed for the purpose of recreation in the 1950s when Daud was the President of the country. It is now a popular picnic location, particularly on Friday's when it is visited by a large number of picnickers. During the Seventh Fiver Plan of the country, the stored water from the dam was planned for supplementing drinking water to Kabul city.
An irrigation canal is proposed to be built from the dam, and survey for the same has been completed from the dam up to Badambagh. This canal is proposed for providing irrigation and expand horticulture.
The reservoir has been developed for trout fishing with a hatchery set up close to the reservoir. As part of recreation, apart from the lake side upscale Spojhmai hotel, there is a 9-hole golf course at the extreme periphery of the reservoir. A new hydrological station has been set up since 2008 at the location of the reservoir for planning of water resources development as part of the network of 174 hydrological stations and 60 snow gauges and meteorological stations proposed in the country. This project is funded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
As part of future planning for alternate sources of energy, utilization of the stored waters of the reservoir and the drop available in the dam has been studied.
There was a terrorist attack by the Taliban at the hotel on the edge of the reservoir on 22 June 2012, as it was suspected that it was one of the main centres of prostitution and partying in Kabul. Twenty people including security personnel and the terrorists were killed in the encounter.
The reservoir feeds a fish hatchery and stocks the rainbow trout fingerlings. The hatchery was set up in 1967 close to the dam and draws water from this reservoir. The hatchery was established in the 1970s when 30,000 trout fingerlings were produced and then stocked in the Qargha Reservoir and in many other rivers such as Panjsher, Bamian, Salang and Sarde. The objective of stocking in the reservoir was meant as a recreational fishing activity under licensed sport fishing. Under UNDP/FAO assistance the hatchery was rehabilitated in 1987, and during 1988-89 egg incubators were repaired and set up with new egg trays to restart production. Eggs were imported from Denmark in 1988. These were stocked in the floating cages moored in the reservoir so that fishes grew into marketable size. Concrete raceways adjoining the farm were also repaired and put to use. In 1989, the fish farm was capable of producing 10 tons of rainbow trout. However, subsequently production was affected due to terrorist activity.
US Army Corps of Engineers in their studies for "Potential Renewable Energy Technologies in Northwest Kabul", have examined utilization of the storage of Quarga reservoir and the head created by the dam. Two alternatives have been studied. In the first alternative the head available at the dam location of about 25 metres (82 ft) below the dam could generate power of 26 KW with regulated releases from the dam giving an annual energy generation of 227,760 kWh. In the second alternative a head of 100 metres (330 ft) could be created over a distance of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) from the dam which could be utilized for power generation of 103 KW with energy generation of 902,280 kWh, drawing water from the reservoir through a penstock pipe line.