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Louisville ‘citizen soldier’ makes Iraqi villagers happy as water project takes shape

Published June 27, 2008

Al Haboosh, Iraq – For the first time ever, a small village in Dhi Qar province will soon have access to clean drinking water.

Sheik Abdul Razak says his community is “very happy” about the ongoing work. The project includes a 50-cubic-meter-per-hour water treatment plant with a reverse osmosis unit, 1000 meters of pipe connecting that plant to the community’s existing water network, and an aboveground storage reservoir for the treated water.

About 1,500 residents live in Al Haboosh, located near Tallil Air Base and Sheik Razak says they had been pumping their water out of a canal. “It was very bad water. This project is important for the health of everyone who lives here. It’s a great sign of progress.” He also complemented the contractor on the quality of the ongoing construction.  “It looks great. We’re very thankful.”

The project is being overseen by Louisville native and Construction Representative Toni Graves with the Gulf Region South District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Graves deployed to Iraq in December, 2007. Her permanent civilian assignment is with the Fort Knox Area Construction Office, Louisville District Army Corps of Engineers. “They’re very excited seeing it being built and anxious to see it finished,” said Graves.

The construction, which started last fall, is currently 40 percent complete and should be operational by September.
Graves, who is overseeing the construction of ten water treatment plants in Dhi Qar, says this project is her favorite because of the enthusiastic pride she sees every time she visits the project as town leaders and children stop by. “I think it’s wonderful we’re able to help them get access to a fundamental necessity. They’re always kind and friendly, delighted to see it taking shape, and grateful for what we’re doing.”

Graves’ previous work with the Fort Knox area office includes civil works projects such as flood control, detention basins, state parks, and locks and dams. She has a total 34 years government service. She has two children who live and work in Louisville.