Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF THE TRANSBOUNDARY MOUNTAINOUS AQUIFER SHARED BY ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
The mountainous aquifer shared by Israel and Palestine is a transboundary water resource utilized by both countries and managed by the two national water authorities. Most of the mountainous terrain over the West Bank comprises highly permeable karstic limestone formations, which imply fast percolation and substantial groundwater recharge into the Judea mountainous aquifer. Hydrological basins with outcrops of highly permeable formations are prone to fast percolation of natural rainfall and excess water from irrigation, as well as anthropogenic pollutants. The high population density over the Judea, Samaria and Hebron mountains poses a threat to the local groundwater quality from anthropogenic pollution. This is already affecting the local population and the Israeli well-fields along the foothills of the mountains, which provide about 35% of the water supply in Israel alone. It is obvious that the disposal of effluents into local washes that contaminate the aquifer and the rivers crossing the coastal plain of Israel must be stopped. Due to water scarcity in the region, substantial quantities of the new water will come from reclaimed effluents; therefore local effluents over the West Bank must be treated to the highest quality. However, due to the sensitivity of the mountainous aquifer, use of this water over the recharge terrain should be avoided. The water scarcity in the region (in terms of quantity and quality), and the delicate hydro-geological situation west of the Jordan River strongly indicates that Israel and Palestine must collaborate over groundwater abstraction, water supply and water treatment management. From a hydrological point of view, the only basins which can safely absorb treated effluents are the Arad-Beer Sheva basin and the central Jordan Valley, where thick, low-permeable layers protect the local groundwater from on-surface activities. Israel and Palestine should therefore consider a water treaty, which will allow for accumulation of treated effluents from the mountainous region, and their transport for utilization in these safe basins. This cannot be done unless a bi-national water authority is established to guarantee optimal water treatment technologies and management for the entire region.