Eden in Iraq

The Wastewater Garden Project

Water remediation in the Mesopotamian marshes of Southern Iraq

Fiscal Sponsorship

Eden in Iraq is a water remediation project named as such since the project is located very near a possible site of the historic Garden of Eden. It will be a centre of cultural heritage and environmental awareness. The project includes the design and construction of an ecological wastewater treatment system in the town of El Chibaish, located in the historic marshes formed by the Tigris and Euphrates which join on the eastern edge. 

Since 2011, visionary artist and director of the project, Meridel Rubenstein has led a team with Dr. Mark Nelson, Dr. Davide Tochetto and the NGO, Nature Iraq, to design and build this public park showcasing the art and cultural heritage of the unique Marsh Arab culture in the heart of the Fertile Crescent while ecologically treating the wastewater. The project is welcomed and being supported by the Iraqi government as a model of ecological, low-cost and effective sewage treatment that can be applied throughout the country which is facing water shortages and almost total lack of effective solutions. Discharge of untreated human sewage is the major pollution in the region now, affecting the Marsh Arabs and the health of the legendary Mesopotamaian marshes and the Euphrates River, so important for human and wildlife support in this region. In addition, the site will bring environmental education as well as beauty to a magnificent ancient and distressed culture.

These marshes in southern Iraq are home to one of humanity’s oldest cultures. The Marsh Arabs developed their way of life around the resources of the marsh, once the third largest wetlands in the world before the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were  cruelly diverted and turned into a desert by Saddam Hussein in the 1990’s.  Upon the dictator’s demise in 2003, the Marsh Arabs returned to restore the natural flow of the rivers and the marsh has been regenerating, allowing them to return from exile. The renowned Iraqi environmental NGO, Nature Iraq, and partner in this project has played a key role to help bring the marshes back to life. For those millions of migrants in Europe and around the world today, the ancient Marsh Arabs of the Mesopotamian marshes in S. Iraq offer a stunning example of a banished people returning home to restore their Eden.

The influence of Islamic design and especially the 4 Chahar Bagh are at the heart of the garden plan. The design for the Wastewater Garden is inspired by Mesopotamian embroidered wedding blankets.

Eden in Iraq team have brought the design and budgets to the Ministry for Water, Commission for Restoration of the Marshes (CRIMW) and other agencies which are supporting the project with resources and machinery.  Construction of the first phase  of the project is about to begin, $1.7 million dollars are needed to realize the project. The Center for Restoration of Iraqi Marshes and Wetlands (CRIMW), within the Ministry of Water Resources,  has provided a site and worked with our team to create engineering plans for the 2.65 hectare (6.5 acre) project.
We need $250,000 for 1st phase.

To download a PDF overview of the project, click here.

For more information, contact Deborah Parrish Snyder, Institute of Ecotechnics.

News Update:

August 10, 2021 was an historic day. We reached a significant milestone in our ten year effort to realize the Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden at El Chibaish in the southern Iraq marshes. We signed an agreement with the Center for Restoration of Iraqi  Marshes and Wetlands (CRIMW) to implement the first stage of our 30,000 square meter wastewater garden: a surface flow wetland system that begins the sewage treatment process.

This first phase begins with machinery, labor, and other engineering resources which the Iraqi government is providing through CRIMW. So shortly, the physical construction will begin!

The Garden will provide urgently needed health and clean water for southern Iraqis, their children, and future generations to come. This project, sponsored by NGO Nature Iraq in Iraq and the Institute of Ecotechnics in both the UK and USA, is a response to decades of conflict in this region and continued tension due to climate change, external water rights violations, and social upheaval.  Initial support since 2011 spans from Iraqi municipalities, the region and State, to international sources; most recently, the Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project was chosen as one out of 100 grassroots projects for UNESCO’s Green Citizens Initiative.

Read Full Post Here: https://ecotechnics.edu/2021/09/wastewater-garden-to-be-built-in-southern-iraq/

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