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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 - June 2021


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:

During this spring reporting period, the PIs, Dr. Aljanabi and Dr. Al-Mukhtar, made significant effort to push and to implement the planned activities that are related to the project. Dr. Aljanabi continued his communication with personnel, stakeholders, and farmers and conducted several individual visits to farmers living in Al-Kurtan, Al-Adwan and Al-Bu'eetha Villages, that are located next to Al-Karkh WWTP in Baghdad. The objective of these visits was to describe the current USAID PEER Project and highlight the importance of adopting integrated water technologies for crop irrigation, especially during water shortage crises, along with the employment of alternative and sustainable water resources.

Dr. Al-Mukhtar continued his supervision on two projects. The first is an undergraduate project which focuses on the assessment of the environmental impacts of Al-Karkh and Al-Rustumiyia WWTPs in Baghdad. The potential EIA of both WWTPs was investigated taking into account the nearby environment. Quality parameters of the released effluents from the two WWTPs were compared to the Iraqi and international quality standards. Furthermore, the study explained the variation in pollutant concentration and their consequential effects on the surrounding environment by considering the physical, chemical, and microbial properties of the treated wastewater.

It was found that the average monthly concentrations of some pollutants have exceeded acceptable limits of quality standards, while others were within the limits. Hazardousness levels of the included pollutants were categorized into five groups in accordance to the global water categories and the team concluded that the resulting impacts of all pollutants released from Al-Karkh station during the study period ranged between good to moderate. In other words, the treated wastewater contains pollutants that need to be removed by using advanced treatment process, such as tertiary treatment along with disinfection. Therefore, further actions are recommended to be taken to reduce the potential risks from the treated wastewater before being disposed to the environment or being reused.

The treated wastewater of Al-Rustumiyia WWTP was better than Al-Karkh WWTP in terms of the included pollutants. Concentration values of the evaluated pollutants were almost within the standards except some discrepancies. As a result, the quality of the released effluent is rather good and could be used after receiving extra treatment. This might be attributed to the fact that the treatment process in Al-Rustumiyia WWTP has more advanced treatment techniques than that in Al-Karhk WWTP. Hence, the evaluated limits were quite acceptable.

The second project, which is currently conducted by graduate student, is related to the optimal water allocation of water resources in Baghdad. The study aims to identify the optimal water resources allocation scenario that should be adopted for the domestic, agricultural, and industrial sectors of Baghdad under the present and potential future climate changes. The calibration and validation of the employed model has been completed, which will be further used in assessing multiple scenarios. It is expected to achieve the objective of this study entirely by December 2020.

The current COVID-19 outbreak has prevented the PIs from achieving the proposed seminars and workshops. Therefore, they have been working seriously to implement the proposed plans as soon as the current circumstance ends. Furthermore, the PIs are trying to present virtual seminars and workshops as soon as approvals are granted.

The implementation of the proposed events depends mainly on the end of COVID-19 circumstances. Meanwhile, Dr. Aljanabi, Dr. Fox, and Dr. Mays are preparing a draft study of the project along with the optimization model. The PIs are trying to fulfill the proposed program of the PEER Project, but unfortunately, the current condition has influenced the planned progress.


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