Israeli company dominates Palestinian water supply

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 Mar 2023

Israel which holds a monopoly of over 85 percent of Palestinian water is forcing Palestinian to purchase their water from the Israeli water company, known as Mekorot, a joint press release from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) said Tuesday, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Palestinian water
File photo: Palestinian women fill bottles of water in the West Bank village of Qarawah Bani Zeid. AFP


The announcement was made on the occasion of World Water Day, which will take place on Wednesday.

Scarce water and Israeli restrictions on access to resources has made life increasingly difficult for Palestinian residents in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Due to limited water resources and Israeli restrictions on access to them, in 2021, Palestinians purchased only 22 percent of their water needs from Mekorot, while the remaining water needs were met through Palestinian springs, groundwater wells, and desalinated drinking water.

As a consequence, the average Palestinian water consumption per capita (less than 100 liters per day) remains below the bare minimum recommended level, according to standards placed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"This is a result of the Israeli control over more than 85% of the Palestinian water," the PCBS and PWA said in the press release.

In 2021, the daily allocation per capita from consumed water for domestic purposes stood at 86.3 liter/capita/day in Palestine (89.0 (l/c/d) in the West Bank, and 82.7 (l/c/d) in the Gaza Strip, according to the figures.

The PCBS and PWA explained how the increase in population and the high percentage of water pollution in the Gaza Strip, means the per capita share of fresh water is extremely lower than the available quantities with only 21.3 liters per day.

Fresh water is calculated as the water suitable for human use from the available quantities.

In contrast, the Israeli daily allocation per capita is more than three times that of the Palestinian individual, standing at approximately 300 liters per day.

This rate doubles for Israeli settlers who have access to over seven times the amount of fresh water available to Palestinians, according to the press release.

Making matter worse, water abstracted from the coastal aquifer in the Gaza Strip is obtained via unsafe pumping that jeopardizes the sustainability of the source.

In 2021 alone, 192.5 million cubic meters (MCM) were abstracted from the coast aquifer, despite warnings that the basin's sustainable yield should not exceed 50-60 MCM per year.

The excess abstractions risk the depletion of groundwater reserves where the groundwater level in the coastal aquifer reached 19 meters below sea level, the press release said.

This has threatened the health and safety of Palestinians as around 97 percent of the water pumped from the coastal aquifer in the Gaza Strip does not meet WHO water quality standards.

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