Gaza water project developments could generate costly traffic footprint
ATHENS, Greece – Efforts continue to develop desperately needed water infrastructure in Gaza yet recent data shows that the wider engineering works could eventually lead to 24,000 lorriesdelivering goods to the site.
Rebhy Alsheikh, deputy head of the technical committee of Kuwait Fund for Gaza Reconstruction Programme has warned about an “impending environmental and public health collapse in Gaza”.
Speaking at the European Desalination Society (EDS) event – Desalination for the Environment: Clean Water and Energy – held in Athens, Alsheikh told delegates that the continued over abstraction of water due to unavailability of other water sources has meant “the water table is dropping all the time”.
Current estimates show that around 96% of groundwater resources do not meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) drinking water quality standards and are unfit for consumption.
Alessandro Podda, project director and construction manager for the Italian company Lotti Ingegneria SpA said future challenges could include, among others, the “outbreak of renewed conflict” as well as “the worsening condition of groundwater resources”.
Six project packages have been outlined so far. Tenders for two packages have already been launched and, upon securing the necessary funds, the remaining will follow. Construction for the works is expected to run up until 2022.
To deliver materials, pipes and parts needed for the reconstruction, a crossing point in the South of the Gaza strip is open five days per week. After the goods are delivered and security checks are carried out, the Palestinian authorities can take material to the site.
As a result, an estimated 24,200 trucks are expected to deliver material during the course of the total engineering works.
In March this year the European Investment Bank (EIB) signalled €7.1 million in technical assistance grant to help with the progress of the 150,000 m3/day, reverse osmosis desalination development.
Previous financial support has come from the World Bank, European Union and Kuwait Funds for Arab Economic Development, with considerable pledges made by Islamic Development Bank on behalf of Arab funds, EU and other bilateral donors.
The ongoing desalination development is part of the wider Gaza Sustainable Water Supply Program (GSWSP), which includes goals to increase fresh water supply by providing 150,000 m3/day.
Once finished, the plan is to use existing and proposed reservoirs to blend water from the completed desalination plants, together with groundwater and the 54,800 m3/day expected to be supplied in the near future from Israel.
One of the longer-term plans is to reduce the levels of non-revenue water over the Gaza strip to reach 20% per year by 2030. Interim targets include 31% by 2020 and 25% by 2025. Currently the NRW rate is estimated at 39%.
Podda added that a further challenge remains in “securing the needed energy supply to run the system, which should come mainly from Israel”.
For wastewater developments, current estimates show that 100,000 m3/day of raw sewage or poorly treated effluent is discharged to the sea.
To help overcome this challenge, a modern $75 million wastewater treatment plant was recently commissioned in North Gaza. Here’s a video from the World Bank which more information on the project: ‘Delivering Life-Saving Sanitation Services in Gaza’: