Washington, D.C. The Umm Qasr water treatment plant, one of the six largest infrastructure projects in southern Iraq, provides potable water for Umm Qasr port facilities and the town of Umm Qasr, thanks in part to the efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps has drilled two wells for water, built the building, installed 10 storage tanks, supplied and installed the reverse osmosis equipment and hooked up the power.
"Everything has been done from the ground up," said Natalie Sudman, project engineer with Gulf Region South District (GRS). "These things were requested by the Basrah governorate. They are now debating whether or not the water is specifically for the Port or for all of the public."
The $341,322 project is one of the more important ones for Umm Qasr, according to Ali, and Iraqi project engineer for GRS.
"I think that the water treatment plants and the other projects that we [Corps] do benefit individual Iraqis and help make a positive difference in their everyday lives," Ali said, adding that the reverse osmosis plant will start operations early this year and have the capacity to produce up to 25 cubic meters of water per hour.
"Before the war in 2003, Umm Qasr citizens used to buy drinking water from the city of Basrah, which is about 60 kilometers away," Ali said.
"Currently there are more than six water treatment plants projects under construction in the southern reign of Iraq. Most of them are scheduled to (start) later this year."
The Corps provided the two wells, each 20 to 30 meters deep, to ensure a reliable source of water.
"These newly completed wells bring water right from the ground," Sudman said. "The project is expected to provide potable water to approximately 200,000 citizens."
She added that the new storage tanks, capable of storing 25 cubic meters of water each, will allow the plant to have a surplus, enabling water to be available all the time.
GRS' mission also is to provide contract oversight for the project.
"We're responsible for making sure that the contractor builds the water treatment plant according to plans and specifications," Sudman said. "The Iraqi government will assume full responsibility for this project and for the national reconstruction. To ensure that happens, these projects involve working with and training Iraq's workers to manage and implement their own projects."
In order to provide a reliable source of power for the water treatment plant, GRS has installed a 1,200-kilovolt electric generator.
"The completion of the plant will have great impact on the town of Umm Qasr, which has suffered from a shortage of potable water for over 20 years," Ali said. "The growth potential for Basrah is unlimited as long as there is a clean reliable source of water serving the community."
Money for these infrastructure upgrades comes from the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) effort.
As of Dec. 31, 2006, GRD has 825 water projects planned throughout Iraq – with 506 projects completed. Of those, 480 are water treatment and sewage projects providing potable water capacity to approximately 2.2 million Iraqis.
SOURCE: US Department of Defense