Stories of short supplies have haunted the U.S. military throughout the war in Iraq—things like inadequate body armor or unshielded Hummers. But while many soldiers say they had good access to water and even Gatorade, the 11 News Defenders discovered that others, stationed all over the country and during all phases of this desert war, say something else was often missing.
“We were rationed two bottles of water a day,” said Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Robey, referring to 1 to 1.5 liter bottles.
In this report, Robey talks about running out of water and forced to drink water out of faucets in Iraq homes, because that was the only water around. The problem with that is, most Iraqi water is untreated and can cause illness. As a result, dysentery spread rapidly through his unit, affecting between 50 to 60 men.
They had to resort to stealing water from civilian contractors by taking unsafe routes, with road bombs, to the airport to find pallets of water that had not been distributed.
Another problem facing the soldiers was – unclean water in the sinks and showers in Iraq.
Turns out, at many similar bases, the water was supposed to be processed by Houston-based company KBR. In an internal KBR report, the company sites “massive programmatic issues” with water for personal hygiene dating back to 2005. It outlines how there was no formalized training for anyone involved with water operations, and one camp, Ar Ramadi, had no disinfection for shower water whatsoever.
“That water was two to three times as contaminated as the water out of the Euphrates River,” said former KBR employee Ben Carter.
Carter, a water purification specialist, was the one to blow the whistle on it all. He said he first noticed a problem when he found a live maggot in a base toilet at Camp Ar Ramadi. He subsequently discovered that instead of using chlorinated water, the soldiers’ sinks and showers were pouring out untreated wastewater.
I did some digging and found that this problem goes back to 2004, it was first reported by ABC News in 2006.