Palestine is a country with a semi-arid environment and limited water resources. Groundwater is the only source of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes. Other than being scarce in quantity these resources are threatened by the rapid deterioration of their quality from a number of pollution sources the most prominent of which is wastewater. Hydro-geological characteristics of the water sources in oPt make the karstic Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank and the sandy Coastal aquifer in Gaza vulnerable to contamination threatening the wellbeing of the people as a result of water-borne diseases. In the densely populated Gaza, 90% of the groundwater in now deemed to be unfit for domestic consumption. While better off in the West Bank many sources that have historically been used for various purposes are now contaminated.
The improper disposal of wastewater also generates ecological problems including the loss of biodiversity and soil and land and crop contamination. In addition to endangering marine life, other than the swimmers seeking the only recreational resort, along the coast of Gaza as a result of the disposal of partially or untreated wastewater in the Sea.
PHG has been working on developing appropriate sanitation technologies since 1997 from its belief that treated wastewater can be a significant water source and in order to improve the sanitation conditions and services in the rural areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Many activities already implemented under this initiative include:
Low cost wastewater treatment
PHG has adopted this technology because it is the best that fits the local environmental, social and economic conditions. It is natural - biological, not requiring intensive energy, low-cost, and low-impact technology, which is also reliable and simple in operation.
One of the projects was implemented at the town of Bani Zaid North of Ramallah it includes wastewater collection, treatment and reuse. It currently serves 25 household. Other projects targeting some villages such as Nuba and Kharas – Hebron are also operating right now and treated effluent is under investigation to check its suitability for reuse. Furthermore, two other projects at Artas – Bethlehem and Deir Samit – Hebron have been implemented.
In the late nineties, PHG has promoted the reuse of treated effluent in irrigation in Gaza. One pilot project was implemented to irrigate olive trees using treated effluent from a small scale treatment plant constructed by PHG in Abasan area _east of Gaza. Following to that, in January 2003 PHG jointly with MEREA, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian Water Authority started another project in Gaza to irrigate produce fodder crops (Alfa Alfa) and citrus trees. The two projects produced good results and proved successful. This has led to expand or even double the area dedicated for producing fodder. Finally PHG in cooperation with other NGO’s has implemented several reuse projects in Gaza to irrigate tens of dunums of orchards.
PHG has introduced this alternative sanitation technology to address both water scarcity and environmental pollution. This technology assisted in saving 20-30% of the water used in the houses. One of the projects was implemented in some of the rural areas of Hebron area; the project has implemented 25 dry toilet units.
Grey water treatment and reuse
PHG has promoted the treatment technology of grey water treatment to help promote the concept of grey water as a resource and to help improve the environmental and health conditions of the rural communities and eliminate social and environmental problems caused by cesspits. So far, PHG has been able to construct 174 grey water treatment units. At least 60% of grey wastewater can be recovered, treated and reused thus more than 150,000 liters can be saved annually per household.