Colonizers in the West Bank consume 70 times more water than Palestinians

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Colonizers in the West Bank consume 70 times more water than Palestinians


Ramallah – Dr. Shaddad Attili, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), stated that international and Israeli studies showed that each Israeli colonizer, in the West Bank, consumes 70 times more water than a Palestinian citizen. He pointed out to a report by B’Teselm, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which confirmed the existence of racial discrimination in water. As well as the World Bank reported that Israeli Occupation Authorities carry responsibility for the scarcity of water available for Palestinians.

Dr. Attili revealed that the amount of water available for Palestinians, in the West Bank, is 105 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) from existing resources; nevertheless it is less than what Oslo Accords had deemed in 1995 to allocate 118 MCM. However, the amount of water needed, in accordance with international standards and the normal conditions, is 400 MCM; which means that Palestinians get a quarter of what they need. The PWA purchases 56 MCM from Mikort, the Israeli Water Company, 4 million of the 56 are to supply Gaza Strip.

Al-Attili stated that the PWA runs and owns only 6% of the natural water resources which equals 15 MCM. However, the municipalities own and run 55% of the natural resources which equals 58MCM (32 MCM from wells and 26 MCM from springs); whereas the citizens own and run 39% which also equals 32 MCM from private agricultural wells.

Dr. Attili remarked that the Water Act 2002 remained a dead letter due to the absence of regulations and the multiplicity of authorities and powers between the Water Act and other laws; such as Local Authorities Law, Agricultural Law, Jordanian Laws, Ottoman laws, and Israeli Military orders. As a result, a major upheaval in water management and wastewater was found as well as the poor water management.

Al-Attili confirmed that the West Bank is facing a severe water shortage, as the current situation in Gaza Strip. He pointed out that there are lack of agreement between the parties, problems between provinces regarding the eligibility in water ownership, in addition to the problems facing the available resources.  He added that the final solution, regarding the water problem, is placed within the final status agreement according to the Oslo Accords as stated in Article 40, Annex III of the Interim Agreement. The agreement explicitly states that Israel recognizes Palestinian water rights, to be negotiated in the final status talks without further elaboration on the nature of these rights.

Dr. Attili added: “In the light of the continuous control over the Jordan River and the groundwater basins, as well as the control of the Joint Committee and the Israeli Civil Administration over the projects, the PWA adopted crisis management plan to maximize the benefit of the available water. This is achieved through reducing water consumption programs, minimizing losses, well rehabilitation, improving service delivery. All of which are to be achieved by improving and extending the pipelines carriers, building water reservoirs and distributing water fairly between Local Authorities in the same province; in preparation for distributing water fairly between provinces.

Dr. Attili confirmed that the PWA increased the amount of water for Hebron province by 14,000 CMC daily. This is in addition to the production of the municipal wells by an average of 3,000 CMC a day. However, the problem exacerbated as a result of the municipal wells being run down.

Dr. Attili revealed that the PWA negotiated with Israel to have a permission to renew the pipeline carrier in order to reduce thefts and losses, but the Israeli Civil Administration refused the request.

Dr. Attili pointed that if the Israeli side agrees on renewing the line carrier, he will be able to provide the province with more than 10,000 cubic meters; in addition to 3,000 cubic meters. He revealed that the PWA will be able to connect 3 new wells by the end of the year, and that the authority is working on collecting 5 million dollars to implement the project. As a result, the amount of water for Bethlehem and Hebron will be increased by 6,000 cubic meters.

However, regarding the water situation in Gaza Strip, 95% of drinking water in Gaza does not meet the basic requirements for human consumption. Furthermore; Gaza residents depend on the costal aquifer, which allows 50 MCM per year, Dr. Attili confirmed. The amount of consumption is 170 MCM, which means that sea water is leaking into the groundwater; therefore Gaza water is contaminated and thus in 2014 there will be no safe drinking water in Gaza. He added that the sewage leakage into the groundwater in Gaza causes kidney diseases and other health problems.

Dr. Attili explained that there are many proposals for new water projects that will be implemented in the near future with large budgets in Beit Lahiya, Gaza, Shekikh Ajleen and other provinces in Gaza Strip. He added that many of these proposals have been approved.