Investigators have found large disparities in the capacities and public perceptions of two water treatment plants built by the same contractor as part of the Iraq reconstruction program. A report released on Oct. 28 by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) evaluates the Nassiriya water treatment plant and Ifraz water treatment plant.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) awarded two separate task orders in April 2004 to a joint venture of Fluor Corp., Irving, Texas, and London-based AMEC to construct the Nassiriya plant for $277 million and the Ifraz plant for $185 million. The projects were completed in September 2007 and July 2006, respectively.

Among SIGIR’s findings, investigators report that satisfaction with water supplies differed sharply among recipients of potable water from Nassiriya compared to those served by the Ifraz plant.

Inspections carried out in May by SIGIR found the Nassiriya plant was producing water at 61% of capacity with higher than the maximum designed amount of turbidity, while the Ifraz plant was at 98% capacity with lower than the maximum designed amount of turbidity. The report also showed the Ifraz plant had a permanent and reliable electrical power source, while the Nassiriya plant did not. Nassiriya also lacked an adequate amount of consumables, which were provided by the local government, according to the report.

The CPA set metrics: The Nassiriya plant was to produce 10,000 cu meters per hour of potable water for 550,000 local residents, and the Ifraz plant was to produce 6,000 cu m per hour of potable water for 600,000 residents.

Polling among local residents found dramatic differences in opinions about the projects. For the Nassiriya plant, 23% of the local residents were satisfied with water availability, and 5% were satisfied with water quality. For Ifraz, 88% of those polled were satisfied with water availability, and 85% were satisfied with water quality.

At press time, neither contractor had responded to a request for comment.