A group of Israeli, Palestinian and French scientists have proposed a possible management solution to ameliorate the water quality crisis depriving residents of drinkable water in the Gaza Strip. The study is published in the September-October 2005 issue of the journal Ground Water. This special theme issue contains 14 papers on transboundary ground water.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority share the Southern Mediterranean Coastal Aquifer. The long-term over-exploitation in the Gaza Strip has resulted in a declining water table, accompanied by the degradation of water quality.
According to the researchers, the proposed management plan would provide a win-win situation for both Israelis and Palestinians, but requires cooperation between the two parties. The plan is a unique three phase effort among the researchers as a part of the European Union Fifth Framework Program. The first step involved investigating sources of salinity and contamination patterns in the area. Second, models were used to simulate the different water flow patterns along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The third level of the project provided management scenarios tested by mathematical models.
“At present, the ground water in the Gaza Strip is the only source of water for its rapidly growing population, which is currently over one million, yet is unsuitable for drinking by any international standard, owing to high levels of salinity, nitrate, and boron pollution,” state the authors. “The supply of good quality drinking water is vital for the future of the Gaza Strip and stability in the Middle East. Lack of adequate drinking water in the Gaza Strip might hinder future peace negotiations in the region.”