Breakthrough in Palestinian waste-water treatment
12/17/2010 05:34

Multi-national team of water experts lay cornerstone for plant near Jericho; project to be pilot for larger program.

A group of water experts from Israel, Italy and the Palestinian territories laid a cornerstone for a waste-water treatment plant Wednesday in a Palestinian village near Jericho called El-Uja, said water and environmental consultant Avraham Israeli.

At present, it was a symbolic gesture because the funding for the plant has yet to be secured, he added.

But once it is built, it will be a pilot for a project of setting up similar treatment plants across the West Bank, he said.

The cornerstone ceremony was part of a four-day workshop of experts this week that was sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, the Israeli Ministry of Regional Cooperation, the Peres Center for Peace and the Arva Institute of Environmental Studies.

More than 65 percent of the population living under the Palestinian Authority lacks access to a network that collects waste-water, according to data presented by the Italian Trade Commission and the Arva Institute.

Most Palestinian domestic waste-water is collected in pits or storage tanks, which allows for leakage that seeps into the ground and contaminates the ground water. Budgetary and bureaucratic restrictions have kept the PA from finding a solution, according to the Italian Trade Commission and the Arva Institute.

Lack of proper sewage treatment creates an environmentally risky situation for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is also a source of tension between both parties, they added.