Gidon Bromberg, Yana Abu Taleb, Nada Majdalani *
April 2020


Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID 19 or SARS-CoV-2,
considerable research has been made in order to better understand the virus, so as to control the spread of the pandemic and discover its prevention and treatment. One aspect of the pandemic that requires further research is how the virus behaves in an aquatic environment. There is now strong evidence that the virus survives in our bodily waste and will be present when we dispose of that bodily waste (feces and urine) into the environment. The question is if it can be detected, how long the virus survives in our wastewater systems and if contact with untreated or poorly treated wastewater could be a source of infection.

For Jordan, Palestine and Israel the question is particularly relevant as much wastewater remains untreated or poorly treated, left flowing in the environment, and where it is treated, it is then widely reused for agriculture to grow food. In Israel, wastewater is reused at the highest rate in the world, 87%, with about half of the agriculture in the country grown on treated wastewater. In Jordan, greater Amman also treats its sewage and then reuses the water for agricultural production in the Jordan Valley, but in the Jordan Valley itself there are no modern sewage treatment plants and most homes dispose of their sewage in cesspits, with homes not even connected to sewage treatment infrastructure.

Similarly, in Palestine most cities have poorly functioning sewage treatment
plants and in villages only cesspits exist, with no collection or treatment
infrastructure. Thus, in much of Jordan and Palestine wastewater may flow
untreated or poorly treated into open streams, seep into groundwater and in many locations flow in the streets and nearby houses.

Remainder of report at bottom of EcoPeace homepage

  • The authors are co-directors, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian of
    EcoPeace Middle East. They acknowledge and thank Dr. Dror Avisar, Tel Aviv University and Nadav Tal, EcoPeace Israel Water Officer, for an earlier report produced in Hebrew that was referenced for this report. The authors would further like to thank Prof Ariel Kushmaro and Dr Esti Kramarsky-Winter, both from the Dept of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben GurionUniversity for their review and comments.