117, No Water and No Electricity

Since it seems to blog about Iraq day here at Angry Bear, let me add my own contribution… I read this the other day…

Much of the Iraqi capital was without running water Thursday and had been for at least 24 hours, compounding the urban misery in a war zone and the blistering heat at the height of the Baghdad summer.

Residents and city officials said large sections in the west of the capital had been virtually dry for six days because the already strained electricity grid cannot provide sufficient power to run water purification and pumping stations.

Baghdad routinely suffers from periodic water outages, but this one is described by residents as one of the most extended and widespread in recent memory. The problem highlights the larger difficulties in a capital beset by violence, crumbling infrastructure, rampant crime and too little electricity to keep cool in the sweltering weather more than four years after the U.S.-led invasion.

Jamil Hussein, a 52-year-old retired army officer who lives in northeast Baghdad, said his house has been without water for two weeks, except for two hours at night. He says the water that does flow smells and is unclean.

Two of his children have severe diarrhea that the doctor attributed to drinking what tap water was available, even after it was boiled.

“We’ll have to continue drinking it, because we don’t have money to buy bottled water,” he said.

I’m gonna pause for a moment and note that this guy has the same name and a similar profession as some dude that insisted on existing despite reports to the contrary, so I think we can safely say $@&* him and his family, and this story must be false. Keeping that in mind, we continue on…

Adel al-Ardawi, a spokesman for the Baghdad city government, said that even with sufficient electricity “it would take 24 hours for the water mains to refill so we can begin pumping to residents. And even then the water won’t be clean for a time. We just don’t have the electricity or fuel for our generators to keep the system flowing.”

Noah Miller, spokesman for the U.S. reconstruction program in Baghdad, said that water treatment plants were working “as far as we know.”

“It could be a host of issues. … And one of those may be leaky trunk lines. If there’s not enough pressure to cancel out that leakage, that’s when the water could fail to reach the household,” Miller said.

He said that there had been a nationwide power blackout for a few hours Wednesday night that might be causing problems for all systems that depend on Iraq’s already creaking electricity grid.

I think its time to prove that Noah Miller doesn’t exist…

In the meantime, Iraqis suffer in brutal heat. It was 117 degrees in the capital Thursday, down from 120 the day before. With the power out or crackling through the decrepit system just a few hours each day, even those who can afford air conditioning do not have the power to run it.

Many Baghdad residents have banded together to use power from neighborhood generators, but the cost of fuel and therefore electricity is skyrocketing. Diesel fuel was going for nearly $4 a gallon on Thursday.

As expected in the midst of a water shortage, the cost of purified bottled water has shot up 33 percent. A 10-liter bottle now costs $1.60.

“For us, we can buy bottled water. But I’m thinking about the poor who cannot afford to buy clean water,” said Um Zainab, a 44-year-old homemaker in eastern Baghdad. “This shows the weakness and the inefficiency of government officials who are good at only one thing blaming each other for the problems we are face.”

Um Zainab? Um Zunaib? What kind of a silly name is that. Clearly this woman is as fictional as Australia.

Anyway, I’ve read enough. I think its safe to conclude it was a balmy 78 degrees in Baghdad, there was waaaay too much electricity for anyone’s good, and they opened up the fire hydrants for the kids to play in the streets. Somewhere, an Iraqi Norman Rockwell is painting.