Life in the Iraqi village of Al Zatia has just gotten better, thanks to new windmill-powered water pumps. Installed by the U.S. military and private contractors, these are the first of what is hoped will be many windmill-powered water pumps in that nation.

Al Zatia has been without a reliable source of drinking water since 2003. Although water was trucked in, the amount and price of water often could be controlled by insurgents.

Col. Ryan Kuhn is deputy commanding officer for the US 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) in Iraq. When he first saw Al Zatia, he realized life there could be improved if the villagers had a better source of water and proposed windmills to run pumps.

The windmills were a new idea in Iraq. When Kuhn first proposed the idea, local contractors were skeptical. “I’m a farm boy from Nebraska,” Kuhn explains. “If this worked for me in Nebraska where water is hard to come by, there is no reason it wouldn’t work out here.”

The first windmill was completed in January and each system costs $20,000, which includes the well, storage tank and a small pump. The windmill can pull water from a 30-meter-deep well and into a 200-gallon holding tank. Each pump, the story says, can produce 200 gallons of water every hour and provide water for up to 150 families. Kuhn hopes to add a solar-powered water purifier to the windmills. The purifiers would cost $7,000 each.

Maj. Chris Hempel is an agricultural officer with MNC-I Civil Military Operations Cell, in Iraq. “With the windmill-powered ground water pumps,” Hempel says, “they won’t have to pay for water.”

“The windmills are [intended to provide] the majority of the villagers’ drinking water,” says Hempel. “This area is unique. It’s the only area with these windmills. This is a 3rd HBCT project and we wanted to get eyes-on so we can potentially expand throughout other areas of the country. We will keep monitoring the projects’ progress at Corps.”

Kuhn hopes to see the use of windmills expanded, and to have new windmills manufactured in Iraq.