By A. Al Bahrani
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 9, 2009 - For more than 15 years, a hospital here discharged its raw sewage straight into the Shatt al-Arab River. With the assistance of Iraqi officials and coalition forces, that situation changed this month. During a ribbon cutting ceremony April 2, the director of Sadr Teaching Hospital officially opened the hospital's new $1.9 million wastewater treatment plant.
"Today we celebrate the completion of this critical project that will benefit everyone in our community," Dr. Mahdi al-Jumaah said. He praised the partnership that made it happen – the efforts of the contractor, Basra Health Directorate, city leaders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Sadr Teaching Hospital is a 487-bed facility where about 500 patients are treated daily. "More than 100 people with life-threatening emergencies are rushed here daily for immediate care," Jumaah noted.
Taha Mohammed al-Qurashi, chief of Basra Environmental Directorate, said the new treatment facility uses modern technology and is an important step toward a cleaner, healthier community. "In general, Basra province suffers from sewage problems, and this plant demonstrates what is needed to reduce that pollution," he said.
"The hospital's old wastewater treatment plant was nonoperational," Mustafa Hamdan, a Basra Health Directorate representative, said. "This is the first hospital in our area to get this kind of modern equipment. The hospital is now discharging treated water – a great improvement for everyone."
Since 2004, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed more than 4,500 projects, valued at nearly $7 billion. Among those are 570 completed water treatment and sewer projects, with another 39 ongoing. More than 5 million people are benefiting directly from these projects, officials said.
(A. Al Bahrani works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division's south district in Iraq.)