Head of Water Authority, Eng. Mazen Ghunaim, with the Netherland representative and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), inaugurated the first phase of the Project to reduce transboundary wastewater pollution, and launch the second phase, with a value of $5 million, funded by the Netherland government. This comes within the strategy of the Water Authority and its partners to develop the wastewater sector in the Palestinian governorates. It reflects positively on the protection of the environment and the development of the development process and provides citizens with a suitable environment in human, social, and economic terms.
Eng. Ghunaim indicated that this achievement was made today with the support of permanent partners in the water sector. The Netherland government provided financial funding for the project, amounting to $ 6.7 million. He added that despite the great challenges facing the water sector in Palestine, which were exacerbated by the pandemic, the Water Authority, with the support of its partners, was able to continue implementing many strategic projects and programs to develop all components of the sector, which made a qualitative contribution to developing water and wastewater services and work to raise the efficiency of its institutions, develop and protect water resources, and find alternative sources.
Minister Ghunaim touched on the reality of sanitation in Palestine and its challenges, noting that this sector faces great challenges, as there is a good percentage of the population that is not connected to sanitation services and networks, especially in the West Bank, which threatens the environment and public health, especially the dangers of cesspits, the problem of wastewater flow and its passage through the Israeli territories, and the discounts imposed by the occupation on us from the clearing in exchange for its treatment. Therefore, sanitation projects and treatment plants are considered at the top of the priorities of the Water Authority’s plan.
Noting the importance of raising community awareness and the Palestinian citizen’s awareness of the importance of these projects and their impact on aspects of their health, social and development lives, as we still face a lot of rejection as a result of the misconception of these projects by the citizens, they are not aware of their importance in improving their health conditions and save them from the negative effects of leaving the sewage valleys exposed and not treating the wastewater.
The governor of Tulkarm Governorate, Issam Abu Bakr, praised the government's interest and continuous support for strategic water projects for its awareness of the importance of these projects and the urgent need to develop the water sector on the one hand, and strengthen the Palestinian position in the face of the occupation and its policy of controlling all aspects of life, besides stealing water, it also steals money by cutting it off under the pretext of wastewater flow and its treatment.
As for Kees van Baar, Head of Mission of the Netherlands, he affirmed the continued support of the Netherlands for the water and sanitation sector and the assistance of the Palestinian side in its negotiations with the Israeli side through the Palestinian-Israeli-Netherland Tripartite Committee to the deductions made by the Israeli side unilaterally.
The UNDP Assistant Special Representative Sufian Mushasha, thanked the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Palestinian Water Authority for their partnership with UNDP and highlighted the importance of establishing a comprehensive wastewater management system that protects the environment, maintains public health, and reduces pollution, especially since the SDG 6 highlighted the importance of improving water and sanitation services as an integral part of the environment, energy, and food among others.
The first phase of the project targeted six communities in Baqa Al-Sharqieh, Zeita, and Nazlat municipalities, where residents used cesspits and dumping wastewater into Wadi Abu Nar and surrounding areas, posing significant public health risks, and constituting a threat to the shared water aquifer.
The Water Authority, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, with the support of US$6.7 million from the Netherlands representative, was able to address these issues and support the Palestinian Water Authority and improve the management of its transboundary wastewater, which benefited nearly 22,000 people. During the first phase, wastewater collection networks and two pumping stations were established to connect the targeted communities, and meters to measure the quantities of cross-border sewage flow in five border areas, with the aim of measuring the quantities of water that reach inside the green line to obtain accurate numbers to be used as an excuse to the unilateral deduction made by the Israeli side that cuts more than 25 million shekels annually under the pretext of treating the water flowing from the Nablus and Tulkarm governorates, noting that the Israeli side continues to impede the implementation of the Tulkarm treatment plant project since 1999, and the project also includes strengthening the capacities of the targeted local authorities to ensure sustainability and development of the provision of sanitation services in addition to that support was provided to the Palestinian Water Authority in monitoring quantities of cross-border wastewater, and systems for collecting sewage service subscription fees maintenance and operation fees.. During the first phase, wastewater collection networks and two pumping stations were established connecting the targeted communities, flow measurement systems were installed in five border areas, the capacities of the targeted municipalities were developed in wastewater management, and finally support was provided to the PWA in monitoring the quantities of transboundary wastewater.
The completion of this stage also contributes to protecting the fertile agricultural lands in the Shaarawiya area from the risk of contamination with wastewater and to stop the deterioration of groundwater quality from the area's wells by stopping the risk of contamination with wastewater.
The second phase targets the municipality of Attil and Dair Al-Ghusoun, in addition to improving wastewater flow policies and management mechanisms through the installation of flow meters in Attil, Hebron, and Beit Jala. It is expected that by 2022, proper sanitation services will increase to reach about 8,200 people living in Attil, in addition to setting modified water tariffs to ensure the sustainability of the services provided.