In a joint press release marking World Water Day, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) today said that in the occupied Palestinian territories and as a result of 55 years of Israeli occupation and control over the Palestinian natural resources, the daily allocation per capita from consumed water is less than the internationally recommended rate, and it is decreasing.
This is as a result of the Israeli control over more than 85% of the Palestinian water, they said.
At the same time, achieving justice in the distribution among localities is one of the main challenges facing the State of Palestine due to the Israeli occupation that hinders the development of an integrated water system at the national level.
The daily allocation per capita from consumed water for domestic purposes is 84.2 liter/capita/day in Palestine: 82.4 l/c/d in the West Bank, while it is 86.6 l/c/d in Gaza Strip in 2020, said the PCBS and PWA. However, they added, taking into account the increase of population, the high percentage of water pollution Gaza Strip, under Israeli blockade since 2006, and calculating the quantities of water suitable for human use from the available quantities, the per capita share of freshwater is only 26.8 liters per day in Gaza Strip.
Taking into account the discrepancy of the daily allocation of consumed water per capita between the different governorates, achieving justice in the distribution among localities is one of the main challenges facing the State of Palestine due to the political situation it lives in that hinders the development of an integrated water system at the national level, noting that the average Palestinian water consumption per capita is still less than the minimum recommended level globally according to the standards of the World Health Organization, which is 100 liters per day, due to the Israeli control over Palestinian water resources.
Data showed that the percentage of the exploitation of surface and groundwater from available water during 2020 was high with an average of 79%, said the PCBS and PWA.
It should be noted, they said, that Palestinians have been denied, by the Israeli occupation, to access and extract water from the Jordan River since 1967, which is estimated at about 250 million cubic meters (MCM).
On the other hand, the quantity of water pumped from the Palestinian wells in the West Bank in 2020 was 108.8 MCM from the eastern aquifer, western aquifer and north-eastern aquifer.
With scarce water and Israeli restrictions on access to resources, said the joint press release, Palestinians are forced to purchase water from the Israeli water company Mekorot. In 2020, they purchased 90.3 MCM, which represented 20% of the water available in Palestine (448.4 MCM). Additionally, 53.3 MCM of the water were produced from the Palestinian springs while 299.1 MCM are pumped from groundwater wells and 5.7 MCM desalinated drinking water, representing 1% of the available water.
As for water available to Palestinians that is unsuitable for human use due to the quantities of polluted water in the Gaza Strip, it reached 201.8 MCM, whereas the quantities of water suitable for domestic use available to the Palestinians are only 246.6 MCM, including purchased and desalinated water. The amount of desalinated drinking water in the Gaza Strip was only 5.7 MCM in 2020.
Moreover, and according to the data of the Palestinian Water Authority, Palestine began producing quantities of desalinated water, where the percentage of which is expected to increase in the coming years; with the start of operating desalination plants in the Gaza Strip. Thus, this percentage shall rise significantly with the implementation of the central desalination plant program.
The amount of water extracted from the coastal aquifer was 190.5 (MCM) in Gaza Strip in 2020. However, this quantity is obtained via unsafe pumping that jeopardizes the sustainability of the source, as the basin sustainable yield should not exceed 50-60 MCM a year, where the groundwater level in the coastal aquifer reached 19 meters below sea level leading to the depletion of groundwater reserves. As a result, 97% of the water pumped from the coastal aquifer in Gaza Strip does not meet the water quality standards of the World Health Organization.