Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 8, 2012

Sealing The Pipes To Save Water In Palestine

Notice how low the flow of the Jordan River is!

To raise awareness about the region’s opportunities to conserve water in Palestine, Israel and Jordan, FoEME is launching campaigns to raise public awareness about important and eco-nomically sensible interventions that can be implemented to save water and increase the water supply to the Jordan River.

In Palestine, although most of the population is connected to a water network, much of the networks suffer from significant water losses. These losses can be partially attributed to old and inefficient pipes, but also to ongoing water theft. These two issues contribute to 35% losses, which drains the total water supply in the West Bank. Making the needed improvements to infrastructure will limit water losses and diversions and improve water access for all Palestinians. However, these efforts will be somewhat in vain unless Palestine receives a fair amount of the water shared between Israel and Palestine. This change must be complimented by manage-ment changes that allow water to flow in the pipes 24 hours/day. As things are currently, water flows in the pipes for most Palestinians intermittently, causing breaks and reducing the longevity of the pipes. This creates an economic burden on the Palestinian Water Authority, who continually have to rehabilitate the water systems.

Under the existing water distribution system, people receive water once every few days  and sometimes weeks or months. According to World Bank reports, one third of Palestinian towns and communities, representing approximately 10% of the population, were still not connected to any water network as of 2009.

Water treatment facility at Birzeit University

Many Palestinians, especially in Gaza, rely on illegally tapping pipes and wells to exist. As water shortages continue to grow, the incidence of theft becomes higher. Regulation of water pipes in the West Bank, however, is limited, due to the Palestinian Water Authority’s inability to regulate the Israeli Army-administered Area C.

FoEME´s campaign aims to highlight and bring attention to the need to improve current water networks and create new ones in Palesitne. These will greatly reduce the cost of wa-ter for consumers and municipalities and can improve livelihoods by supplying enough water for small subsistence farming. In FoEME’s 2010 Transboundary Assessment for Palestine it was projected that the partial upgrading of water conveyance infrastructure in Palestine will allow an estimated reduction of losses by 25% and will save up to 12 MCM annually. FoEME appeals for the water sector to be free from the political conflict. Both Israel and Palestine should agree on a final water accord in order to guarantee water supply and sustainability for people and nature.

This post was written by FoEME intern Lena Siedentopp. Lena is based in FoEME´s Bethlehem office

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