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Through the joint efforts of coalition forces and Iraqi government officials in the township of Hibhib, near Baqubah, Iraq, a water treatment and distribution facility opened June 25.
Members of the civil military operations team from 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers and Hibhib Mayor Ali Husan Ali were on hand to cut the ceremonial red ribbon signifying the treatment and distribution facility was operational.
“If you look at the big picture, the Iraqis have a government that has been installed,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Fisher, commander, 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion. “They have their national sovereignty. Part of a sovereign nation’s responsibility is to take care of its people. The water treatment and distribution facility is a great step towards demonstrating to the good citizens here in Khalis Kada the government is looking after their needs.”
Hibhib is the township equivalent to a U.S. city. Khalis is a kada, which is equivalent to a county, and Diyala Province would be considered a state in the U.S.
The facility was run down and could not support the needs of the people before it was given an upgrade by Iraqi contractors. Now, the facility, with 11 km of new piping, can provide clean water for up to 4,000 people, said Capt. Brian Soule, civil military operations planner, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion.
The project cost $130,000 and was paid for by funds from the commanders emergency response program, which is funded by the U.S. Congress. The program allows commanders in each area of operations to identify needs of the local people and provide assistance as quickly as possible.
Before the treatment and distribution plant was functional, the water would make people sick, said a local Iraqi teenager through an interpreter who was observing the ceremony. They would have to boil the water to get it clean. Now, it will be better for cooking and takes away the fear of poisoning. It makes life more comfortable.
The civil military operations team has many more projects in the works in coordination with the local government. Projects include installing a sewage system, a hydro-electric facility and the completion of the Baqubah soccer stadium.