RUTBAH, Iraq --
In the city of Rutbah, Iraq, the supply of water is inconsistent. It can be even worse for the towns outside of Rutbah where the water supply is scarce and very expensive.
There are a few privately owned wells in the towns of Dhramma and Romalia, but many of the villagers cannot afford to buy water from them, and a water truck only comes around every couple of weeks.
“We have put together a project to build two wells for each of the towns that will supply free water,” said 2nd Lt. Dan J. Alldridge, 24, from Bloomington Ill., who is the officer-in-charge of Detachment 1, Civil Affairs Team 4, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5. “We are also working to get the city of Rutbah a more consistent water supply.”
The Rutbah water plant draws its water from 16 different wells, but the plant is only able to run when the city power is on.
“The city will usually have power for about six to eight hours per day, and it takes about an hour just to get the water pumped from the wells to the pump house,” said Alldridge.
To help the pump house with its power problem, CA Team 4 is looking into providing a large generator so it won’t have to depend so heavily on the national power grid.
Marines with CA Team 4 also inspect the pump house and wells about once a week to ensure they are not being threatened by insurgents.
“When we go out to inspect the wells, we usually try and bring something for the families that are out there,” said Alldridge.
Soccer balls and school supplies were given to the children of the families who live out at the well sites during the Marines most recent visit.
“We are the only people these children see other than their families,” said Alldridge. “They don’t go to school, so we give them pens and notebooks so they can have things to learn to read and write with,”
The city of Rutbah is a sheep-farming community and its economy is largely dependant on the people who live in the surrounding towns. Assisting towns like Dhramma and Romalia in getting water is important for everyone.
“The two towns we are providing wells for are in need of a water source if they are going to continue to exist,’ said Staff Sgt. Richard R, White, 30, from Las Vegas, who is the team chief for CA Team 4.”
Each town is receiving two wells to help alleviate the expenses of bringing in water with a truck or buying it from the privately owned wells. By helping the infrastructure of the smaller towns, the city of Rutbah’s economy will also stabilize a bit.
“Hopefully we can get everything from clinics and schools out here, but the wells are the first step,” said White. “Once these wells are finished, they will provide free water for the whole town”
The importance of the wells has been reflected in the speed of their construction.
“We gave the contractor three months to finish the job, and we are now projecting he will be finished in two,” said Alldridge.
The wells and pump house generator couldn’t come soon enough for people in and around the city of Rutbah. They may not be able to change the intensity of the desert heat, but thanks to CA Team 4, they will have water.