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Baghdad Hopes Project Will Resolve Water Shortage

Severe drought has devastated large swaths of Iraq.
Severe drought has devastated large swaths of Iraq.
BAGHDAD -- Baghdad Mayor Sabir al-Isawi says the largest municipal water project in the Middle East is under way in his city to help end water shortages in the Iraqi capital, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Al-Isawi told RFI the Baghdad Water Authority contracted France's Degremont and the Iraqi companies Al-Mabrook and Issam al-Iraqi to implement the first phase of the project, which will cost some $1 billion.

He said work on the project began eight months ago and is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

Al-Isawi said the massive project includes the construction of 16 water-storage facilities, 11 on the eastern side of the Tigris River and the others on the western side. When completed, the new structures are expected to provide supply Baghdad's water needs until 2030.

Al-Isawi said civil engineering work on the project is being done by an Indian subcontractor and that a $6 million contract was given to a foreign consultant.

The Iraqi capital, which has an estimated 6 million to 7 million residents, regularly suffers from water shortages due to a decrepit distribution system and insufficient power supply to run purification and pumping stations.