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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:

The final quarter of 2019 saw significant unrest in Iraq which impacted planned project activities to a great extent. Despite this, PIs Dr. Aljanabi and Dr. Almukhtar, did their best to establish the required connections and meetings with the people who are interested in providing help and support for the project. Several in-person meetings and phone calls were achieved that included promises to host seminars of the PEER Project during the first six months of 2020 in a variety of educational, governmental, and public organizations and institutions.

On the other hand, due to the unrest in Iraq, several scheduled seminars and meetings have been canceled. Some of these activities were rescheduled to be done during the next few months, while the others are on hold until the current situation gets better. Additional institutions have expressed interest in being involved in the series of seminars to spread the idea of using the integrated water resources planning and management that considers reclaimed water as an alternative source to mitigate the pressure on the available renewable water resources and to enhance the public perception about the importance of reclaimed water as a reliable and sustainable alternative.

Dr. Aljanabi participated in the 7th Arab American Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in Egypt where he had very fruitful meetings and discussions with Arab and American scientists and researchers with different backgrounds from a variety of great organizations. His participation has enhanced his experience in the field of his work, which will translate positively in the preparation of the current PEER Project. Afterward, on November 24, 2019, Dr. Aljanabi presented the lecture entitled “The Optimal Allocation of Reclaimed Water for Agricultural Irrigation” at King Saud University (KSU) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Faculty members and graduate students from KSU attended the lecture. Additionally, Dr. Aljanabi in a collaboration with Dr. Almukhtar, presented a seminar on December 22, 2019 at the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Technology.

Finally, Dr. Aljanabi, Dr. Fox, and Dr. Mays have been working to finalize the mathematical model of the proposed water allocation optimization model and to complete the draft study, which is projected to be submitted in the next few months.


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