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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Bush Brings Democracy to Iraq: Filthy Iraqi drinking water raises cholera fears. Time to PRIVATIZE!

    [...]

    Many residents only have to sniff the tap water to know something is not right.

    "I fear giving it to my children directly unless I boil it," said Enam Mohammed Ali, a 36-year-old mother of four in the New Baghdad district in the eastern part of the city.

    The water crisis began as a symptom of the problems that plagued reconstruction efforts in the early years of the war. Extremists attacked infrastructure projects, including electricity stations and sewage plants, to undermine support for the U.S. and its Iraqi allies. Law and order broke down, with looters stealing pipes, power lines and other equipment.

    [...]

    Two-thirds of the raw sewage produced in the capital flows untreated into rivers and waterways, Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in his quarterly report released Wednesday.

    U.S. and Iraqi officials insist that the tap water in most of Baghdad is of at least fairly good quality because it comes from less polluted areas north of the city. In fact, more Iraqis nationwide have access to potable water now than before the war — 20 million people compared with 12.9 million previously, according to Bowen's report.

    But some Baghdad neighborhoods, notably New Baghdad and Baladiyat, are not so lucky.

    There, the Tigris is so filthy with sewage and other pollutants that the local treatment facility can only do so much. To make matters worse, sewage then leaks into the potable water pipes. On Friday, the U.S. military announced the opening of a water distribution site to prevent the mixing of sewage and drinking water in New Baghdad and Baladiyat.

    It comes none too soon.

    A cholera outbreak in northern Iraq last year killed 14 people. A similar outbreak of the waterborne disease in Baghdad — home to about 6 million people — could be far worse.

    "Iraq is on the cusp of a serious water crisis that requires immediate attention and resources," said Thomas Naff, a Middle East water expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The World Bank has estimated that it would take $14.4 billion to rebuild the Iraqi public works and water system.

    A U.S. Embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the media, said the actual need is higher. The United States has allocated $2.7 billion for water projects in Iraq, but the official said the money is running out.

    [...]

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