World Bulletin/News Desk
Gaza’s rapidly growing population of about 1.64 million - expected to increase by 500,000 by 2020 - could soon lose its main source of fresh water, the underground coastal aquifer, which could become unusable by 2016, with the damage irreversible by 2020.
1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza currently live without clean drinking water. Not fit for human consumption, their water is causing chronic health problems and contributing to high rates of child mortality. With more than 4,500 people per square kilometer, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Because the water provided through the municipal systems is polluted, some 83 percent of households buy desalinated water, spending up to a third of household income. But even this water is often not clean enough. And those who cannot afford to buy water use private and agricultural wells, which are often contaminated and polluted.
Already living in severe poverty, some families are forced to spend a third of their income on privately bottled drinking water. Residents are dependent on an underground water aquifer that is corroded and contaminated with seawater and sewage. Israel confiscates 90% of available freshwater for itself, while less than 10% is allocated to Palestinians, according to the Project Censored report.
Israel is in violation of the International Water Law, which insists available water resources are to be shared “equitably & reasonably” between Palestinians and Israelis. Neglected and unmaintained, the damage done to Gaza’s aquifer is becoming irreversible.
The UN warns that Gaza’s aquifer will become certifiably unusable by 2016 unless an immediate solution is implemented.
An average of 160 million cubic meters (mcm) of water is taken from the aquifer per year, but it is only fed with 50-60 mcm from rainfall and water-runoff from the Hebron Hills every year, resulting in a huge gap between availability and usage. As a consequence, ground water levels have been falling, allowing seawater intrusion.
Meanwhile, the report projects demand for water of 260 mcm in 2020, an increase of about 60 percent from today.Last Mod: 27 Ekim 2013, 09:18