For those Palestinians and Israelis working together on the ground in the water sector, cooperation has become a necessity – but on a business- to-business level rather than at governmental scale.

“Individuals and entrepreneurs find it easier to cooperate than governments,” Shukri Haramy, director of MEDCO, told a conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon.

Haramy was speaking at a session on regional water cooperation at the Water Technology and Environmental Control (WATEC) Exhibition and Conference in Tel Aviv, organized annually by the Israel Trade Fairs Center and Kenes exhibition company. To build water infrastructure from naught in the Palestinian Authority, representatives from many outlets – including Israeli manufacturers – have had to “work together,” but on a private-sector, and not a governmental, level, Hamary explained.

“For business people, it’s very simple [to cooperate],” Haramy said. “And there’s benefit for both [sides].

When you have a win-win situation, you always get somewhere.

Hamary is involved in the ongoing overhaul of the Palestinian water sector on a macro level, funded for years by USAID. The current stage of the program will encompass more than a decade, and it involves a basic water infrastructure overhaul to bring potable water to areas of the West Bank still lacking the resource. Many suppliers, Hamary has found, have been Israeli manufacturers.

“The will sort of exists – everyone wants to help,” he said. “It’s a major step forward to the better understanding to people.”

Another, much newer cooperative project taking place in the West Bank is a group of pilot programs that has been running for about a year in the village of Auja, separating gray from black wastewater, explained Avraham Israeli, president of the Israel Water Association. Others involved in the project include Dr. Clive Lipchin of the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies and Mansour Hind of the Palestinian Wastewater Group of Engineers.

“Together, we got into this project,” Israeli told The Jerusalem Post. “The gray water is recycled and going back into greenhouse irrigation.

It’s a very good example of how cooperation and technology can bring at least local solutions.”

One of the innovators aiming to be involved in the larger program is Mapal Green Energy, whose fine floating- bubbles aeration system does not require expensive treatment-facility construction nor the use of energy intensive systems, according to the firm. By incorporating its technology into the future Auja project, Mapal claims, energy consumption of a municipal wastewater treatment facility there would be reduced by 70 percent, with operation and management costs reduced up to 80 percent due to the mobile nature of the system.

“Mapal is pleased with the opportunity to take part in an initiative that will improve the quality of life in the area, for both residents of Israel and its neighbors,” said Mapal CEO Zeev Fisher.

Panelist Dr. Loay Hidmi, director of water supply and sanitation at Jordanian firm SaafConsult, emphasized how crucial it is to upgrade water technologies and to do so in the form of regional collaboration. “Everyone understands what water means,” Hidmi said. “It’s simple, it’s vital, it’s important. That’s why it provides for us an excellent forum on which to start communication.”