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Iraq's Water Hyacinth Problem


The broad leaves and delicate purple flowers floating on the Euphrates look breathtaking—but they are suffocating the waterways of Iraq. The fast-spreading pest poses a special risk in Iraq, one of the world's hottest countries that is already suffering from regular droughts and shrinking water resources due to overuse, pollution and upstream river dams. Its glossy leaves form a thick cover, absorbing up to five litres (1.3 gallons) of water per plant a day and blocking sunlight and oxygen vital to the aquatic life below.