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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 the period of this report, the team held several meetings as part of the requirements to accomplish this PEER Project. Most of the meetings were with stakeholders, decision makers, civil activists, and individuals aimed at increasing public engagement on the implementation of the integrated water resources planning and management strategies to enhance the public perception about the current and potential water-related challenges and concerns. Meanwhile, increasing public acceptance to the idea of investment in water conservation measures and techniques for irrigation, domestic, and industrial applications was discussed as a method of minimizing water shortages during droughts and their consequent negative impacts.

The PIs also continued their site visits, educational lectures, and meetings on the local level to spread the idea of using modern irrigation monitoring and controlling techniques to minimize water losses and to increase the productivity of farmlands while avoiding soil salinity by using limited amounts of water to satisfy crop needs. In accordance to the proposed capacity building and educational activities, a series of visits to the seven cities and Baghdad's neighborhood districts took place for educational and capacity building purposes. Dr. Aljanabi also met with Mr. Khalid A. Aeed, the Assistant Project Manager of Al-Latifia WWTP. They discussed the potential of utilizing the treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation. Quality standards of the treated effluent were evaluated to determine its suitability for agricultural purposed and other applications. It should be mentioned that the Al-Latifia WWTP is situated in a location where it is easy to utilize the reclaimed water (secondary treated wastewater) for agricultural and/or landscape irrigation after receiving tertiary treatment to satisfy health safety quality standards. Within the same context, Dr. Aljanabi also held several meetings with agricultural investors, farmers, and civil activists who are interested to invest in the field of developed agricultural techniques and integrated water resources systems.

Despite the current COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq that is still preventing the PIs from conducting seminars and workshops, the SECB/ University of Technology and the PIs are planning to hold events in person as soon as possible. In the meantime, the PIs are working to present virtual seminars and workshop, and hope to get the necessary approvals shortly.


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