Iraq, U.S. partner to refurbish water treatment plants
September 8, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq -- Imagine living without the convenience of running water for daily showers, brushing your teeth and let's not forget the comfort of being able to wash your hands after a trip to the restroom.
With the 17th Fires Brigade having recently completed its final inspection of al Hartha Water Treatment Plant, the citizens of Basrah can now enjoy some of the same commodities as the people of the U.S.
The plant, located 12 miles north of Basrah, was working at 30 percent capacity and considered almost non-operational by the time the U.S. contracted with the Al Farden Group to renovate at a total cost of $420,000.
"That's a small amount of money considering the amount of water that they have gained from this facility," said Maj. Peter D. Hesford, 1314 Civil Affairs Company, Civil Liaison Team, 17th Fires Brigade, project manager.
Hesford said the funding for such projects comes from the Commander's Emergency Response Program, an allocation of funds granted to deployed U.S. military commanders to initiate short-duration projects designed to alleviate urgent humanitarian need.
Hesford said the al Hartha project fits such a need.
"We've just increased their water production by 15 percent with this water treatment plant alone and this is just the first of more to come," he said.
Producing more than 100 million liters of treated water daily, the al Hartha water treatment plant is the second largest plant in Basrah province and services the entire region's population of almost 2 million.
"U.S. forces in partnership with the government of Iraq are committed to providing the people of Iraq with treated water," Hesford said. "With the refurbishment of this plant, we've provided the citizens of Basrah with more than 40 million liters of water. That's approximately 12 additional liters of water for each person in the city of Basrah."
The completion of this water treatment plant marks only the beginning of the purification process for Basrah province.
Hesford said there are currently three water treatment plant refurbishment projects underway in the southern region of Iraq. They're slated to begin in six weeks, and include the regions of Bradia, Jubalia and Ribbat, with the construction of a new plant set to begin at az Zubayr.
"The 17th Fires Brigade is poised to leave Iraq in the hands of the local and federal governance and we're increasing our efforts in the area of mentorship, while taking a harder look at how we apply our CERP dollars," he said.
Through partnership with the U.S. State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team and local Iraqi leadership, Hesford said the 17th FB's objective is not only to appropriately apply CERP resources but ensure each project's sustainability through coming generations long after the departure of U.S. forces.
"These projects serve as an example of our commitment to assist and advise and to leave Iraq secure, safe and prepared for future economic expansion," he said.