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NEWS | March 31, 2008

Water facility reopens, clean water flows

By Allison Flannigan Capt., 101st Airborne Division

A young boy cools off in a pool of clean water at the Mushada Water Treatment Plant March 26. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Allison Flannigan)
A young boy cools off in a pool of clean water at the Mushada Water Treatment Plant March 26. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Allison Flannigan)

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq (March 30, 2008) — A ribbon-cutting ceremony March 26 marked the opening of the Mushada Water Treatment Plant, north of Mahmudiyah, a facility that will benefit thousands of area residents.

Col. Muhammad, commander of 3rd Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), attended the ceremony and spoke to visitors about the event.

Following the speeches, Muhammad cut the ribbon to open the plant and those present were given a guided tour of the facility, including the pumps, water tanks and administrative buildings.

The plant restoration took five weeks to complete and was paid for by Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds.

More than 30 workers and 20 skilled tradesmen worked together to complete the renovations. They replaced pumps, cleaned and sealed water tanks and fixed the electrical wiring inside the plant. Workers restored the buildings, did landscaping and installed two 5,000-gallon fuel tanks capable of powering the entire facility for six months.

One of the buildings will provide office space for an engineer from the South Baghdad Water Department and other facility employees. Another building will house the engineer and his family. The landscaping around the facility is designed for the family living on-site to grow their own vegetables, irrigated by the water tanks.

Capt. Gary Goodman, the project purchasing officer for 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT), and the unit’s bilingual, bicultural adviser, Dean Mechael, met with the contractors, monitored progress and offered help throughout the process.

Mechael, an Iraqi-born professional engineer from Farmington Hills, Mich., said he’s proud of the work done to repair the plant, adding the renovation will improve the quality of life and the health of the local citizens.

The facility is capable of producing 2.7 million gallons of potable water and 3.5 million gallons of non-potable water each day. Before the restoration project, Mechael said, the facility was working at only about 10 percent of its capacity.

Currently, 60,000 Iraqis are serviced by the facility. Future plans include adding a water distribution system that will provide water to 250,000 people or more.Since the pipe construction for water distribution won’t be completed for some time, Goodman, a native of Mahanoy, Penn., said part of the restoration project included adding water pipes outside the plant so people can come with jugs or water tanks and fill up for free.

And most importantly for the local residents, the water is safe to drink.

“They did a water test to test the hardness of the water and compared it to the water in Baghdad,” Goodman said. “The water in Baghdad has an 18 percent hardness rating; this place has 2 percent, so this is actually much cleaner than the water that’s in Baghdad.”