Canal cleaning brings water to locals

By Pfc. Abel Trevino
Staff writer

The 512th Engineer Battalion and 13th Corps Support Command Civil Affairs have jointly undertaken a project to clean up 150 kilometers of canals, clogged with weeds and cane, and provide water to improve irrigation for agriculture in the farmland surrounding LSA Anaconda.

Five hundred local villagers were hired to clear the canal. Each day of the project, the villagers clear five meters of the canal using hand tools.

This project is designed to improve water flow and irrigation for crops.

The idea for the project came from the recognized need to help improve irrigation and also a way to bolster the local economy by employing villagers, said Maj. Douglas Brunot, 512th EN Bn.

"[The Army] could have just hired a machine to do this. It could have been done quickly and less expensively, but the idea is to employ as many people as possible and spread the money around," said Brunot.

The economy is reliant on agriculture, which in turn is reliant on water and the canal is a main supply of water for crops in the area, said Brunot.

In addition to improving water flow, the project also provides jobs for local villagers.

The canal clean-up may also indirectly help stop attacks on LSA Anaconda.

Anti-Iraqi Forces have been suspected of hiding supplies in the canals and there is a chance these could be recovered during the cleanup, Brunot said.

In addition to the potential discovery of weapons caches, the project engenders goodwill between the villagers and LSA Anaconda.

The work on the 150 kilometers of the canals will mostly be done by hand, but there will be a backhoe to actually dredge the canals for depth, while the 500 local-national employees clear the vegetation and debris away.


news photo
Col. Nicholas Zoeller from the 13th COSCOM Civil Affairs section meets local villagers hired to clear out the canals.