For the second time in two weeks, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has released an audit that should provoke major concerns about the pace of progress in Iraq. Last time, it was about the strength and composition of Iraqi security forces -- this time, among other things, it's about the ongoing failure of the largest reconstruction project in the country, the Nassriya Water Treatment Plant.
Bloomberg has the details of the I.G.'s assessment, which came as part of the office's latest quarterly report on reconstruction in Iraq. The plant, funded by the U.S., cost $277 million to build and was completed in June 2007, but on two recent visits to the facility, inspectors found that it was running at only 20 percent of capacity, and two of the five cities that are supposed to be served by the plant were not receiving water. And though the plant is supposed to operate around the clock, at the time of the inspections, it was actually running for only one eight-hour shift per day.
Bloomberg reports, "The project is failing because of a lack of reliable electricity from Iraq's national power grid, a leaky and old water distribution system unable to withstand higher pressures and flows, and illegal taps in the water transmission line, the audit said."