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    Discussing the future of water in Baghdad

    Discussing the future of water in Baghdad

    Photo By Sgt. Brian Johnson | Air Force Col. Lowell Nelson, U.S. Forces Iraq (center), asks a question to City of...... read more read more

    BAGHDAD, IRAQ

    02.18.2010

    Story by Spc. Brian Johnson 

    United States Division-Center

    By Spc. Brian Johnson
    United States Division - Center

    BAGHDAD — In a desert environment, water can sometimes be more valuable than any other commodity.

    In Baghdad, which has a population of more than 8 million people, 10-15 percent of the population does not have access to potable water. Having that access, especially during the scorching heat of summer, is vital.

    To increase awareness of the water situation in Baghdad, reconstruction teams from the U.S. military and the Baghdad Water Authority gathered at Contingency Operating Location Prosperity, Feb. 18, to discuss Baghdad water services.

    The event, hosted by the Joint Reconstruction Operations Center, brought together teams from U.S. Division-Center and U.S. Forces-Iraq, as well as Baghdad's chief water engineer, Haider Mohammed, and members of the Baghdad Water Authority to discuss the issue.

    The water authority also supports several areas outside of Baghdad, to include Abu Ghraib, Taji and Tarmiyah. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the water authority has attempted to gain control of all water assets, operations and activities in Baghdad but has been unsuccessful.

    According to water authority officials, to be a successful provider of potable water, they "must have control over all water operations, maintenance, repairs, planning and bill collection."

    According to Haider, many problems plague the Baghdad water distribution network.

    "There is no management of water distribution and many of the distribution networks were constructed without planning," Haider said. "The city of Baghdad also lacks adequate reservoirs, which results in the pumping of water from the production plant directly into the distribution system."

    Haider explained some of the additional problems the Baghdad water network faces. These include a lack of modeling and records, inadequate trained, skilled, and competent workers, and the Baghdad Water Authority has no real long-term strategic plan.

    Baghdad Water Authority officials said nearly 50 percent of potable water is lost due to leaks, illegal tapping and waste. There are currently no laws that prevent anyone from tapping into a water line or a water main.

    As the conference continued, the military teams presented another problem that Baghdad is facing: sewage.

    "If many improvements are made to the water system in Baghdad but there are no sewer improvements made, the result will be sewage in the streets," Haider said.

    According to water authority officials, there are no sewer systems in all newly developed areas of Baghdad. Instead, storm drains and irrigation canals are used to push sewage away from the public.

    The Army Canal, in the Sadr District, has become one of the main sewage drains for the city. Built in 1959 by then president Abd al-Kassem Qassim, the canal was designed to bring fresh water to the people living in northeastern Baghdad.

    Unsanitary water now feeds through the canal into the Army Canal Pump Station, but the pump station no longer operates effectively, causing filthy water to flow directly into the Tigris River. To get the canal operational, cleaning, unexploded ordnance removal and minor rehabilitation efforts would be required.

    Baghdad Water Authority officials said they find themselves constantly responding to current crises instead of managing production and operations.

    Despite this, Haider assured military leaders that the authority's operations are improving and they are making headway on numerous projects, but he offered a much broader solution.

    "A complete overhaul of the City of Baghdad Water Authority is required," said Haider. "Development, then execution, of a comprehensive long-term strategic plan is required immediately."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.18.2010
    Date Posted: 02.24.2010 06:40
    Story ID: 45780
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

    Web Views: 313
    Downloads: 240

    PUBLIC DOMAIN