Chester Lowery, right, with Hasan Yahya Hasan, facility Plant Manager stand in front of Iraq's second largest hydro electric facility, Haditha Dam. (photo/story
Norris Jones U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)
"Chester Lowery, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) employee for 27 years, volunteered in September to fill the billet as Power Project Manager at Haditha Dam, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He’s the only USACE representative there.
“We funded this position to bring in someone who could interface between our security force at the dam and the Iraqi engineers operating the facility,” said Marine Capt. James Haynie, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. “The Iraqis would seek access to certain parts of the facility, would suggest certain actions, and we had no idea whether it made any sense or not.
He also brought a depth of experience and has helped the Iraqis institute a preventive maintenance program, Haynie said. “He worked with them in writing a 90-page maintenance manual that calls for certain daily, weekly, monthly and annual inspections covering every aspect of the plant. Prior to this the Iraqis’ main focus was fixing problems as they occurred.”
“Lowery was instrumental in getting the Iraqi staff increased from 20 employees to 165 workers,” said Hasan Yahya Hasan, the facility’s Plant Manager. “It’s great to talk to somebody who understands what we’re trying to do.”
Lowery says he gets great satisfaction in seeing the smiles on Iraqi faces as they solve problems together and work as a team. In addition, he doesn’t spend much time at his desk, preferring instead to roll up his sleeves and help with jobs like replacing broken valves and snapped pipes.
Lowery said the biggest challenge when he started was the language barrier.
“None of the Iraqi engineers would speak English,” said Lowery. ”However, after we worked together and they built up their confidence in me, I discovered 90 percent of them understood what I was saying. Communication is no longer an issue.”
Haditha is Iraq’s second-largest hydroelectric facility, and is located on the Euphrates River. It has a reservoir capacity of 8.2 billion cubic meters (compared to Mosul Dam on the Tigris River that has a 12.5 billion cubic meter capacity).
Haditha Dam is capable of producing 660 megawatts of power from its six units. Because of low water, the facility is currently producing about 150 megawatts daily.