Bechtel also expects to invite in mid-November companies to bid for the contract to improve the flow-rate of a 60-kilometre-long stretch of canal, which transports water from the Euphrates to a central treatment plant located near Basra International Airport.

Eight local and international firms are prequalified for the work.

The projects will help to alleviate the chronic shortage of treated water in and around Basra. At present the city is supplied with 15,000 cubic metres a day of untreated water. Bechtel intends to begin restoring the supply of treated water by March 2004.