In southern Iraq, the Pudrid water waste has seeped into the swamp outside the pipe and is known as the home of the Bible Garden of Eden and it is already a threat to the fragile world heritage site.
According to data compiled by the United Nations and academics, in a country where the state does not have the capacity to guarantee basic services, about 100 percent of Iraq’s industrial waste is being dumped directly into rivers or seas.
Jassim al-Assad, head of the non-governmental organization Nature Iraq, told AFP that black waste water had been poured into UNESCO-listed wetlands, “a direct threat to the flora and fauna and heavy metals”.
Al-Assad, once an engineer in Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources, left the job to devote himself to saving that extraordinary natural habitat, which was destroyed by former dictator Saddam Hussein and is further endangered by climate change.
Contaminants also “indirectly affect humans through buffaloes,” he said, known for fixtures in wetlands and “gummer” cheeses produced from their milk, he said.
According to Nader Mohsen, a fisherman and farmer born in the Chibaish district of Marshallland, “buffaloes are able to drink anything other than contaminated water and are forced to walk a few kilometers into the pond.”
And “around the sewer pipes, most of the fish die,” he added, and dozens of rotten fish floating on the surface of the water.
Pollution is the latest threat from the world’s largest internal delta systems.
The rich ecosystem between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers had just escaped the wrath of Hussein, who in 1991 ordered the removal of the marshals as punishment for protecting rebel fighters.
The drainage has reduced the marshland by half of its 1991 area of 15,000 square kilometers (5,800 square miles).
He died of natural causes in prison a year ago after the United Nations condemned the death of a former ruling official in 2010 for calling it “the worst environmental crime in history.”
A few years ago, Mohsen and other Marshall residents – thousands of families divided into three provinces south of the countryside, tribal and believed in fighting for the end goal – believed they would see their home improve further.
When the canals and ditches built during Hussein’s rule were destroyed, the water returned, along with more than 200 species of birds and dozens of wildlife, some on the verge of extinction elsewhere.
Tourists too – mainly Iraqis – began to tour the area again for boat trips and lunches at grilled fish.
But today, the irresistible stench emanating from waste water pipes keeps people away.