By Army Maj. Mike Humphreys
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 23, 2009 - A ceremony marked the official opening of a new water treatment facility that will deliver much-needed fresh water to the people of northeastern Baghdad. About 200 people, including Baghdad Mayor Navet Al Essawi and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, attended the Jan. 21 ceremony at the Sadr City Rusafa Water Treatment Facility, located in the Hay Ur neighborhood of Baghdad's Adhamiyah district.
The modern facility will help shape the future of Baghdad and Iraq, Crocker said.
"This is truly a strategic project," the ambassador said. "It provides 96,000 cubic meters of water to Baghdad per day, and the United States of America is proud and pleased to have financed this project and to see it through to completion with our close friends and our partners in the mayoralty and the government."
The $65 million facility, completed in October, took three years to build. It provides 4,000 cubic meters of fresh water per hour to northeastern Baghdad, to include 27 sectors of Sadr City.
"This project is the most important and probably the biggest project for Sadr City," Al Essawi said. "This project and others like it will clear the path of terrorism."
The ceremony served not only to demonstrate a return of essential services to the region, but was a symbol of closure for an area that had been marred by violence for so long, said Maj. Brian Horine, the civil military operations officer for the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
"This opening is about what the government of Iraq has done for the people. This facility was started more than two years ago when Sadr City was in the height of bad times," the Phoenix native said. "Today, security and stability has returned, allowing this to happen."
The mayor thanked coalition forces for their help and guidance in making the new facility a reality.
Horine said the water treatment facility is just a start to many equally important projects soon to be completed, including a nearby electric substation that will distribute reliable power to the people of Sadr City.
Baghdad and Afghan government officials are committed to the people, the mayor said.
"The people of Sadr City and their neighbors have suffered from a water deficiency for 10 years. Now they can rest and be secure that they have someone to look after them," Al Essawi said.
(Maj. Mike Humphreys serves in the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.)