Ramallah - Head of the Water Authority, Eng.Mazen Ghuneim, and the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. sufyan Sultan, announced the establishment of the first Irrigation Water Users' Association in Palestine through the issuance of the joint decision to establish Wad Al Shaer Association by the Water Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture as a first step is followed by other steps in the near future to establish several irrigation water users associations in the development of the water and agriculture sectors in Palestine.
Eng.Ghuneim has welcomed Minister Sultan and the accompanying delegation stressing the importance of joint strategic actions with the Ministry of Agriculture for the intersection of agriculture and water strategy in many activities and complementarity of development of agriculture and irrigation, and the importance of the application of government policies and water sector strategy , especially in relation to the management of traditional and non-conventional water resources that Israeli occupation control over 85% of them, and impedes the development of the water sector, particularly in areas classified ' c ' and the reuse of treated water for irrigation and institutional development to treated wastewater through the establishment of Irrigation Water User Associations as one of the pillars of water strategies.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture stressed the importance of joint work between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Authority in the areas of irrigation and proper management of traditional and non-traditional agricultural water resources ,especially with regard to reuse of treated water as an additional source to irrigate crops and its strategic importance in developing the agricultural sector and stabilizing farmers' steadfastness in their land to face the occupation of agricultural land and its work to undermine the agricultural sector.
The importance of the system derives from the importance of the role played by Irrigation Water Users Association and of its role in the development of plans and programmes to develop irrigation water management, which has been allocated from all water sources for irrigation purposes in accordance with the water policy, as well as operating and maintenance process so that the irrigation and drainage system is operated, maintained and managed in a fair, efficient and economical manner, In addition to the process of determining water prices and levies that come through water pricing on water tariff system .
The system aims to regulate the agricultural sector through the work of the association to organize agricultural and irrigated crop patterns for each crop within the work of the association, and preview the irrigation and drainage systems used to determine how to distribute water to ensure the prevention of waste or misuse, and water distribution quotas during periods of shortage, in coordination with the relevant authorities.
In addition, the rationalization of water consumption is one of the objectives that the system sought to achieve by adopting modern methods of irrigation of water economy and achieving high efficiency of use.
Water Users Associations includes in its provisions awareness and training of the farmers and others to prepare their farms to receive irrigation water, as well as educate them on irrigated agriculture, appropriate crop types and times of planting, irrigation ,and fertilization, with the aim to achieving efficiency and optimal use of water.
It is noteworthy that this system is set up in coordination and cooperation between the Ministry of agriculture and water authority, under Decree-Law number 14 of 2014 on water, that provide issued a special system of irrigation water users associations, based on article 48, which provides that “ Water users associations shall be established to manage irrigation water supply service at the local level in a sustainable way in accordance with a system issued by the Council of Ministers upon the joint recommendation of the Minister of Agriculture, and the head of Water Authority, the system shall determine Licensing procedures, functions, powers, management and water resources.”
As the Water Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture have prepared a manual for the establishment of Irrigation Water Users Association based on the system, which details the mechanism of establishing the association and the conditions of construction and the forms for construction request.