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Iraq's 17 million residents occupy about 250 cities, yet only 6 percent of those people enjoy the benefits of wastewater treatment plants. The remainder of the population depends on individual septic tanks and other means of disposal. Rural areas, where about 30 percent of the population resides, there are virtually no sewerage systems. Cities with septic tanks experience major problems with high water tables. The urban population is diverting wastewater into streets via stormwater drains or discharging it, untreated, directly to rivers.

Countrywide, most sewage treatment plants were only partially operational before the conflict. Lack of both spare parts and effective maintenance during the previous regime caused failure of the mechanical and electrical equipment in the plants, preventing wastewater treatment and creating health hazards through the contamination of groundwater and local rivers. Continued lack of treatment poses serious environmental threat to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

The current rebuilding of water and wastewater infrastructures will provide safe drinking water and will facilitate proper discharge wastewater in Iraq. Several international agencies have been contributing to the rebuilding wastewater infrastructure efforts in Iraq.

This paper will focus on wastewater infrastructure in Iraq before and after the conflict, current progress of the reconstruction efforts and projected goals upon completion of those efforts. Overall efforts by various agencies to improve sanitation conditions in Iraq also will be discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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