From the Desk of LTC Avi Shalev, Head of the International Organizations Branch

The Civil Administration is keen to support and help the development o the wastewater sector in the West Bank. Treatment of wastewater is of key importance to the region and to the communities. Untreated wastewater can cause serious environmental, water and health hazards. Treating wastewater is also a very important contribution to water conservation, as treated wastewater can be exploited for agricultural purposes. At present, it is estimated that 50% of water usage in the Palestinian sector in the West Bank (approximately 90 million cubic meters per year) is used for agricultural purposes, all of which is potable water derived from the mountain aquifer. Israel by contrast recycles about 72% of water used in agriculture. Water recycling could therefore free a large amount of potable water for human consumption, helping water preservation, which is so precious to the region.

The Dir Sharaf Wastewater Treatment Plant was first fully approved by the Civil Administration in 2001, and again in 2009 when the project was resubmitted. The project,funded by the German Development Bank KFW, will treat the wastewater of Nablus City, currently flowing throught the Zimar Wadi (Stream), culminating in the Mediterranean. The project will treat 3 million cubic meters of raw sewage, allowing for greater access to water for agricultural purposes in the region and better living standard for the citizens of Nablus. The Civil Administration is coordinating all aspects of implementation with the contractor. Construction is due to begin in March of 2011 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

The Civil Administration built a regional Waste Water Treatment Plant in the Hebron District in 1992. The plant was planned to recycle the waste water of Hebron City, Bani Naim, and Halhul. Three ponds were constructed south of Bani Naim, adjacent to Road317, as well as a booster station south of the industrial zone of Hebron City. Regrettably, the treatment plant has never been used by the Palestinians despite the acute water shortage in the area. The Civil Administration welcomes the PWA and the international community’s involvement in reinitiating use of this facility.

The Hebron Waste Water Treatment Plant: The Civil Ad-ministration has expressed its solid support for the World Bank’s initiative to construct a wastewater treatment plant for Hebron City. The sewage from Hebron City currently flows through the Hebron Wadi into the Negev Desert, and is considered to be one of the most serious environmental and health hazards of the region. The planned location for the plant is in Areas A and B, which falls under jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, the project therefore does not require any form of building permitfrom the Civil Administration. The trunk line system, which traverses Area C, was approval by the Civil Administration in 2003.

Tulkarem Waste Water Network project was approved by the Joint Water Committee in December 2010. Plans were submitted to the Civil Administration in January 2011 and are currently under review. A permit order for the project will be issued in the coming months. The project involves a network of trunk lines and underground systems that will collect the sewage from Tulkarem City and several nearby Palestinian villages, including: Shwike, Beit-Lid, Ramin, Zaharat Nasser, Kufr Amman, Anapta, Kufr Labed, and Iktaba. The sewage will be treated in an existing Tulkarem facility, before being sent for further treatment to a wastewater treatment plant in Israel. This project will allow for the rehabilitation of the polluted stream that currently runs through the Tulkarem district and will present a major improvement for the environment and public health of the entire district. The Civil Administration is currently reviewing a feasibility study submitted for the Bitunia WWTP in January 2011. The Civil Administration shall respond to the feasibility study in the coming weeks, and will recommend the sub-mission of a building permit request and an environmental impact assessment report for the proposed project.

The Salfit WWP: The approved site for the Salt WWPis situated in Area B and requires no further permitting from the Israeli side. Sewage from Salt currently flows in a trunk line permitted by the Civil Administration which ends abruptly at the approved site of the yet-to-be constructed WWP.

The Master Plan for the Nablus East Waste Water Treatment Plant was approved by the Civil Administration in 1999, though to date has not been implemented by the PWA. The proposed location of the plant now falls under Palestinian control, and requires no further permitting from the Israeli side. The Civil Administration is in support of this project, and looks forward to the benefits to the entire region, and to the local communities, that its implementation will entail.

The Civil Administration is eager to cooperate with the PWA and international community to promote waste water sector development in the West Bank. The Civil Administration strongly supports a recent request by Friends of the Earth Israel to undertake a feasibility study in view of constructing a wastewater treatment plant in the Bethlehem governorate for Hussan, Batir, Wadi-Fukin villages.