Although the wastewater facility is supposed to be completed this year, it will not meet any of its initial goals. Originally, it was planned to service the entire city, but now will only reach an estimated 4,300 of 24,500 homes in Fallujah. Whether even that number will be accomplished is an open question since there is no contract to build a pipeline to connect the plant to residents or to local septic tanks. Another issue is that people have already started dumping their waste into the system, even though it is not up and running. That is causing foul odors to be emitted, and authorities are worried that there will be possible seepage that could contaminate the city’s clean drinking water. There is also no guarantee that the government will be able to operate the facility as it has not agreed to provide the fuel to run it, and the Americans had to cut off training for the staff.
The Associated Press recently went through all of the audits by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and estimated that $5 billion of the $53 billion spent on rebuilding Iraq has been wasted. Fallujah’s wastewater treatment plant is a perfect example. Iraqis were never consulted on whether they wanted the facility, the lack of security led to skyrocketing cost overruns and delays that led to cutbacks in the original plan that may make the entire plant unfeasible, and even if it is finished Baghdad may not be able or willing to run it. It’s situation like these that has led the Inspector General to consider the reconstruction of Iraq a failure. The U.S. went into Iraq with too lofty goals, little experience in the country, and unprepared to deal with an insurgency that undermined the entire effort.
Associated Press, “AP IMPACT: US Wasted Billions in Rebuilding Iraq,” 8/29/10
Sly, Liz, “A U.S. ‘legacy of waste’ in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 8/28/10
Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction, “Hard Lessons,” 1/22/09