The water crisis in the Gaza Strip: Prospects for resolution

E. Weinthal, A. Vengosh, A. Marei, A. Gutierrez, W. Kloppmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Israel and the Palestinian Authority share the southern Mediterranean coastal aquifer. Long-term overexploitation in the Gaza Strip has resulted in a decreasing water table, accompanied by the degradation of its water quality. Due to high levels of salinity and nitrate and boron pollution, most of the ground water is inadequate for both domestic and agricultural consumption. The rapid rate of population growth in the Gaza Strip and dependence upon ground water as a single water source present a serious challenge for future political stability and economic development. Here, we integrate the results of geochemical studies and numerical modeling to postulate different management scenarios for joint management between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The chemical and isotopic data show that most of the salinity phenomena in the Gaza Strip are derived from the natural flow of saline ground water from Israel toward the Gaza Strip. As a result, the southern coastal aquifer does not resemble a classic "upstream-downstream" dispute because Israel's pumping of the saline ground water reduces the salinization rates of ground water in the Gaza Strip. Simulation of different pumping scenarios using a monolayer, hydrodynamic, two-dimensional model (MARTHE) confirms the hypothesis that increasing pumping along the Gaza Strip border combined with a moderate reduction of pumping within the Gaza Strip would improve ground water quality within the Gaza Strip. We find that pumping the saline ground water for a source of reverse-osmosis desalination and then supplying the desalinated water to the Gaza Strip should be an essential component of a future joint management strategy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-660
Number of pages8
JournalGround Water
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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