USAID: Karbala, Baghdad water treatment plant renovation under way

According to the most recent "Reconstruction Weekly Update" for Iraq from the U.S. Agency for International Development, work has begun to expand and refurbish a water treatment plant in Karbala that has long experienced structural failures, as well as on another facility in Baghdad...

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 8 2005 -- According to the most recent "Reconstruction Weekly Update" for Iraq from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), work has begun to expand and refurbish a water treatment plant in Karbala that has long experienced structural failures, as well as another facility in Baghdad.

Before the Karbala repairs began, compact water treatment units were installed nearby to allow continued water service while the rehabilitation moves forward. Repairing this plant is particularly important because, in addition to providing clean water to Karbala residents the plants supplies potable water to an estimated three million religious pilgrims to the Al-Hussein Shrine in Karbala each year.

Because of its high total suspended solids, the alum- and chlorine-dosing processes were overloaded and sand filter function was impaired. Besides producing a poor-quality, highly turbid water, suspended solids combined with chlorine thus reducing free chlorine available to disinfect the water. Marginal disinfection was effective with most bacteria, but hardened cysts of Giardi lamblia and Cryptosporidium survived disinfection. These pathogens cause amoebic dysentery, a public health risk exacerbated by Karbala's seasonal three million-person pilgrimage.

Compact clarifier units will be installed adjacent to the existing clarifiers, allowing for rehabilitation of the existing plant. Each unit has a flow capacity of 400cubic meters per hour. The existing inlet works and associated pump station will also be enlarged. Workers at the site are re-routing pipe, disassembling a pump at the low lift station, and compacting and placing concrete for equipment pads. This project is scheduled for completion in September 2005.

Work also is continuing on the rehabilitation of Baghdad's Rustimiyah wastewater treatment plant. The plant is one of three major wastewater treatment plants serving nearly 80 percent of the capital city's residents. The three plants' treatment capacity steadily eroded under years of neglect prior to liberation and was further impacted by looting after the 2003 conflict. Prior to the rehabilitation of one branch of the Kerkh treatment plant in June 2004, none of Baghdad's sewage was being treated.

Recently, new electrical motors were installed in Stage 1 aeration tanks and tests were completed on the Stage 2 sludge return pumps at the Rustimiyah plant. In addition, knife valves and actuators were installed at the Stage 2 pump station and submersible pumps and penstocks were installed in distribution chambers. When finished in March 2005, this and the two other Baghdad sewage treatment plants will help to safeguard public health and protect the Tigris River from further contamination by raw sewage.

USAID's goal is to improve the efficiency and reliability of existing water and wastewater treatment facilities, especially those in the south where water quantity and quality are particularly low. An anticipated 11.8 million Iraqis will benefit from USAID's $600 million in water and sanitation projects.


* Nationwide: Repaired various sewage lift stations and water treatment units.
* Baghdad: Expanding one water treatment plant and constructing another to increase capacity by approximately 70 mgd; rehabilitating sewage treatment plants. A major wastewater treatment plant in Baghdad began operating in June of 2004; this is the first major sewage plant in the country to operate in over 12 years. The sewage treatment system in Baghdad, barely functioning for years before the conflict, will be restored to almost 100% capacity, serving 80% of Baghdad's population. Standby generators are being installed at 41 Baghdad water facilities.
* South: Rehabilitating parts of the Sweet Water Canal system, including repairing breaches, cleaning the main reservoir, and refurbishing 14 water treatment
plants around Basrah serving 1.75 million people.
* South Central: Rehabilitating two water plants and four sewage plants. Completed the rehabilitation of a sewage plant in Babil Governorate. Sewage plants in An Najaf, Al Qadisiyah, Karbala, and Babil Governorates will serve 440,000 upon completion. Water treatment in Najaf and Babil will serve residents and visitors at Iraq's holiest shrines.
* North: Rehabilitating two water plants and one sewage plant near Mosul and Kirkuk.

SOURCE: (Report#14).


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