Officials work to provide clean water to Baghdad
Stars and Stripes May 15, 2008
American and Iraqi officials are embarking on a push to provide clean water this summer to districts of Baghdad that have seen heavy fighting in recent weeks.
The effort aims to deal with water shortages in Sadr City, 9 Nissan, and East and West Rasheed, military officials said.
Small water treatment plants, called "rowpus" — reverse-osmosis water purification units — are to be placed at joint security stations in the districts, according to a U.S. military news release. The treated water will then be distributed, officials said. U.S. and Iraqi troops at the outposts will also get their drinking water from the units.
U.S. soldiers with Multi-National Division — Baghdad are providing the ROWPUs and water tanks, while the Baghdad Provincial Council will provide funding, and the Baghdad Water Authority will organize water tankers and the logistics of distribution, officials said.
The purification units are a "short-term plan" while "building and rebuilding the water networks of Baghdad continues," the news release read.
"We hope that by 2009 (the water shortages) will stop," Vick Karine, a civilian water engineer working with the U.S. military, was quoted as saying.
At least one person has died of cholera in Baghdad since last summer, with another dozen deaths reported throughout the country.
According to the United Nations, 67 percent of Iraqis don’t have access to piped drinking water and 75 percent have no access to a working sewage system. U.N. officials blame the lack of access to clean water on the continuing security situation, aging infrastructure and corruption.
A July 2007 report from Oxfam, the international relief agency, said that 70 percent of Iraqis did not have adequate water supplies, up from 50 percent in 2003.
U.N. reports on drinking water — citing Baghdad water officials — put the daily need for drinking water in the capital at 3.25 million cubic meters. Around 2 million cubic meters are piped daily.
The U.N. also cited Baghdad Health Directorate reports that between 200 and 250 case of waterborne diseases were being treated each week in Baghdad hospitals. The report notes that the figure includes only those who are able to seek medical care.
Only one of Baghdad’s three sewage plants is operating fully, officials have said. Huge pools of sewage are forming at one of the other plants because of pipe blockage, the U.N. said in its reports, issued in April.
Water woes aren’t the only problem facing Iraqis. As of February, according to State Department figures, Baghdad residents were still getting less than eight hours a day of electricity.