2006 April 16 Sunday
Iraq Construction Projects Fall Short Of Goals

A good article by John Ward Anderson and Bassam Sebti of the Washington Post Foreign Service outlines the problems and failures trying to rebuild Iraq.

BAGHDAD -- On the southern outskirts of Baghdad, a sewage treatment plant that was repaired with $13.5 million in U.S. funds sits idle while all of the raw waste from the western half of Baghdad is dumped into the Tigris River, where many of the capital's 7 million residents get their drinking water.

Adjacent to the Karkh sewage plant is Iraq's most advanced sanitary landfill, a new, 20-acre, $32 million dump -- also paid for by the United States -- with a liner to prevent groundwater contamination. It has not had a load of garbage dropped off since the manager of the sewer plant was killed four months ago. Iraqis consider the access roads too dangerous, and Iraqi police rarely venture into the area, a haven for insurgents who regularly lob mortar shells across the city into the Green Zone less than six miles away.

Lawlessness causes destruction and enormous amounts of waste.

A quarter of the completed water and sanitation projects are not operating.

For example, the report said, "as of June 2005, approximately $52 million of the $200 million in completed large-scale water and sanitation projects either were not operating or were operating at lower capacity due to looting of key equipment and shortages of reliable power, trained Iraqi staff, and required chemicals and supplies."

What waste.

A reservist in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Col. Otto Albert Busher III, says that Baghdad easily needs $3 billion in water and sewer repair.

Busher estimated that between 40 percent and 60 percent of the purified water that leaves Baghdad's treatment plants never makes it to city taps because of leaks in the system.

"You're looking at a couple of million dollars of lost water per day," he said. And because the water network was built 25 years ago with brittle cement pipes that have a 20-year life, every time a bomb explodes in Baghdad, the water system is damaged.

Even tanks rumbling on the streets crack the pipes -- and not just water pipes, but sewer pipes that run alongside. Contamination of fresh water by sewage "happens on a daily basis," Busher said.

Just in Baghdad alone that's over $700 million in water lost per year plus sickness caused by the mixing of fresh water with sewage.

Read the whole thing. The Bush Administration underestimated by orders of magnitude the job the United States was taking on by invading Iraq. The US military was and still is too small to handle security properly. Therefore the oil fields are producing less, lots of stuff gets built and then destroyed or stolen or workers get scared away. Projects take longer. The disorder and dysfunction encourages the insurgents and provides them more support.

Meanwhile the neoconservatives want to invade Iran. Imagine the scale of the mess that will result from that. Where will the troops come from? Or will they decide to do a massive air campaign?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 April 16 06:53 PM  Mideast Iraq

FriendlyFire said at April 22, 2006 5:06 PM:

great Article Randell

i've reposted it at:

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