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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)


Developing water allocation optimization models for Iraq using different sources of water to be allocated for different uses: Baghdad as a case study

PI: Mustafa Almukhtar (mmalmukhtar@gmail.com), University of Technology
U.S. Partner: Peter Fox, Arizona State University
Dates: November 2018 - October 2020


Project Overview:

In this project, a water allocation optimization model will be developed using a genetic algorithm (GA) to maximize the net benefit from allocating surface water, groundwater, and reclaimed water (RW) in Baghdad for five different uses, including domestic, industrial, agricultural, commercial, and recreational. The model will maximize the consumption of RW to allow for the highest value uses of renewable water resources. The primary goal is to identify practical alternatives for water management to aid decision-makers by providing detailed user-friendly results. The water management model will measure the net economic benefits and associated optimal solutions, which will clearly demonstrate the value of water, something that is often not considered in the decision-making process in Iraq. A measure of sustainability will be presented considering many factors, including water availability and the costs generated from using poor quality (saline) waters, along with their environmental and industrial impacts. An Iraqi PhD student at Arizona State University (ASU), originally developed this water allocation optimization model under the supervision of Dr. Peter Fox and Dr. Larry Mays at ASU. After completing his degree, Mr. Aljanabi will return to Iraq in 2019, where he will work with Dr. Al-Mukhtar with PEER support to further develop the model using local input and data. Dr. Fox will serve as the USG-supported partner on the effort, continuing to collaborate with the team in Baghdad to achieve the goals proposed.

Water reuse must be socially accepted, and therefore the research team will attempt to incorporate social aspects into the model by weighing different uses of RW where agricultural use will receive a lower social score as compared to water reuse in cooling towers, which should be more socially acceptable. A key advantage of water reuse is that RW is a drought resistant water supply that can consistently offset the use of other higher value water resources. This study will raise awareness of this key benefit in Baghdad and provide an excellent case study demonstrating the potential of water reuse in Iraq. The location of two large water reclamation plants in Baghdad near a variety of potential users of RW eliminates the need for expensive distribution systems that can limit the economic benefits of water reuse. The project team will disseminate their results to local decision makers and solicit their feedback to improve the model and begin the process of implementing water reuse.


Summary of Recent Activities:

After extensive delays in the transfer of project funds to Iraq were finally resolved, PI Dr. Mustafa Almukhtar and co-PI Dr. Ahmed Aljanabi launched their project in April 2019. They began by holding several meetings with local authorities, organizations, and groups to brief them on the principles, objectives, and potential benefits of the new PEER project and gain their cooperation in carrying out planned project events. In addition, the PEER researchers also began collecting some of the data for their optimization model and working to prepare lectures and presentations for upcoming workshops and seminars.

During his PhD studies at Arizona State University, Dr. Aljanabi developed five water allocation optimization models under the supervision of Dr. Larry Mays and U.S. PEER partner Dr. Peter Fox, which have been published in his PhD dissertation entitled “Optimization Models for Iraq’s Water Allocation System.” In this study, Dr. Aljanabi has developed predictive water allocation optimization models addressing Iraq’s needs and suggesting easily applicable water management solutions that can then be evaluated, adapted, and scaled up. In particular, Dr. Aljanabi demonstrated the feasibility of adopting an efficient water allocation scenario by providing equity in water allocation considering a variety of resources, including reclaimed water as an alternative resource. On April 19, 2019, Dr. Aljanabi participated in the 92nd Arizona Water Conference, during which he presented a lecture entitled “Optimization Model for Agricultural Reclaimed Water Allocation Using Mixed-Integer Nonlinear Programming.” During the conference, Dr. Aljanabi and Dr. Fox made some new connections that could be helpful both in the current PEER project and in other potential future cooperation.

The PEER team is planning several workshops, seminars, and capacity building programs during the second half of 2019, which will include key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Water Resources, Mayoralty of Baghdad, University of Baghdad, University of Technology, and civil society organizations. Furthermore, in cooperation with Dr. Fox and Dr. Mays, Dr. Aljanabi has developed the first level of the water allocation optimization model that will be the focus of the PEER project while continuing work on development of the mathematical model. A preliminary report about water resources in Iraq should be completed by October 2019 as well. Meanwhile, Dr. Almukhtar is supervising an undergraduate student at the University of Technology who has started his research on the potential environmental effects from the discharge of treated wastewater from the Rustumia Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Tigris River.


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