By Claude D. McKinney
Gulf Region North
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
“I don’t know where they got their water from before this well was here,” said Bill Hood the program engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region North, who manages water project contracts for the Corps. “There was no river or stream that I could see anywhere near the well sites I visited.”
Now, another source of water has been found and tapped in this area -- an underground aquifer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun a well initiative that is due to be completed in mid-summer 2006. At its completion, the initiative will create 49 wells to service 37 Northern Iraqi communities. Each well project consists of a pump house that encloses a well head, a pump, a generator to run the pump, and a chlorinator with all of its associated instruments, pipes and gauges. Included in the project is a reservoir, a supply pipe to the village and, where needed, a tap-stand. The reservoir is a 500-800 gallon tank placed either on high ground or on stilts to provide the needed pressure at the tap. Most of these villages have never had flowing water available within their boundaries before, so they had no tap-stand. Where one was needed, a tap-stand consisting of a shut-off tap from the water pipe, a catch basin with a runoff drain and a stone decking surrounding the stand was built. The local citizens still need to carry the water from the tap-stand to their homes, but it is a big improvement over trucking water in, or having individuals carry water in containers in their cars for many miles to supply their needs. he wells, many as deep as 600 feet and some as shallow as 200 feet, tap directly into an aquifer of nearly pure water. It receives chlorination as an assurance to kill any bacteria which may invade the system. This can do nothing but improve the health of the Iraqi people.
“Of the various type of projects I manage, which includes water, medical facilities, police and other security buildings, and airport facilities, I think these water projects do about as much to “win the hearts and minds” of the local Iraqi than anything else we can do,” said Sheryl Leeper the area engineer who manages the contractors and monitors quality assurance at the work sites. “Their quality of life is improved dramatically; almost instantly. We can complete one of these well projects within several months,” she said.
Whether it be a large water project like the treatment plant being built in Ifraz, which will provide water to 600,000 people in Erbil 31 kilometers away, or these wells which supply water to villages of 500 to 1,000 people each -- providing water is a most important task to building a workable infrastructure for Iraq.