The tanks were full of enough clean drinking water for some 200,000 Iraqis at a new distribution station in eastern Baghdad, but local officials struggled Saturday to agree on where it should go.
"The challenge has been to come up with a distribution plan," said Maj. Gary Giles, a civil affairs officer with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which is spearheading the project. "Here we're having some fits and starts." But Giles, 50, was optimistic the issue would be resolved so the trucks can start delivering water by the end of the week. Mudhafer Ali, the official in charge of the Baghdad water pipes network, said the water would be distributed by trucks carrying nearly 4,000 gallons each and there was a plan to eventually expand the project to provide irrigation water.
The Iraqis have $50-200 million to spend on water projects. The bad news is that they appear to be implementing the same old "cheap water everywhere" (irrigation!?!) method that will result in misallocation of water and underinvestment in infrastructure. Better to give "water vouchers" to citizens and then let "community" water projects (private or public) deliver water at prices that rise with consumption.*
Bottom Line: The Iraqis are trying to get out of one mess. Don't push them into another!
* I've proposed that most of Iraq's political problems could be solved with the distribution of oil profits to all adults through similar vouchers.