AN NASIRIYAH, Iraq, March 5, 2007 -- In a simple ceremony recently, the Iraqi governments Ministry of Water Resources took responsibility for completing the Nasiriyah Drainage Pump Station from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers southern district.
The pump station, a critical project for improving agriculture in the south, has progressed to being 70 percent complete, according to Lt. Col. Dale Johnson, Camp Adder area engineer, USACE. He emphasized that USACE and its prime contractor; Washington International, Inc. reinvigorated the project in August 2005. Construction at the pump station had been touch-and-go since 1992.
The project began in 1983 with a Brazilian contractor who worked for three years and was forced to stop building because of political upheavals at the time, he said. Work resumed again in 1992, but because of flooding and structural failures work was stopped again. In 1999, more work was done, but we didnt know the extent of that until WI started work on the project.
However, once the project was under way, the contractor discovered unforeseen problems at the site, such as concrete and electrical issues. These created new costs not originally considered at the time the contract was let. Moreover, the time it would have taken to correct these issues created logistical problems that could not be easily resolved.
USACE has reviewed and verified the cost challenges facing the contractor, said Johnson. A mandated ceiling on the available funds was set by Congress, and the funds needed to finish the drainage pump station exceeded that. He added that work was suspended until the transition took place.
The contractor had reached a critical decision point on the project. The funding had allowed for complete cleanup of the station, which was buried in silt and mud; establishing the internal electrical system; completing a major concrete structure which would allow the siphon to function properly; and refitting and installing nine of the 12 pumps, each with a capacity of pumping 316,000 gallons per minute. Because of the extensive up front reclamation and repair cost, it was determined, with agreement from the Iraqi government, to partner with the Iraqi MWR to complete the project.
The U.S. Government has offered the government of Iraq a grant agreement to support the completion of the project by the MWR, said Johnson. The senior consultant for Water Resources with the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office of U.S. Embassy Mission notified Minister Latif Rashid, MWR by letter of the U.S. decision to terminate the construction contract, and that the transition would take place as soon as possible.
He explained that the governments developed a plan for the transition, which was in March 1.
The MWR will determine how and when they will proceed with the completion of the project, said Johnson. The Corps is willing to continue to have an advisory role with this project. Through the MWR many jobs may continue and I anticipate there will be additional work and jobs, based on the requirements that the project needs.