Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Israeli and Palestinian Ongoing Water Crisis

This enunciates the underlying problem facing the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is not going to be solved accessing any further sources of fresh water. It is not going to be solved by shifting the available water away from agriculture either because the population is expanding. The whining over the current water split reflects past arrangements based on available agricultural land, most of which is in Israel.

If the water issue were to be totally resolved by deus ex machine, everything else would sort itself out.

In terms of current options, a desalination plant could supply potable water sufficient to supply the consumer market. It is expensive but it puts the burden directly onto the user population and allows natural surface water to be used in agriculture.

The plant(s) would have to be on the coast were much of the population is anyway. I was previously involved with an innovative desalination technology that could have economically resolved this problem. Regrettably, the physicist died and it was stillborn. I am waiting for it to be reinvented again.

More likely we will get there with the Eden Machine sooner. Recall that all these hillsides were covered with woodlands and forest soils. There is enough rain, even today to support such forests. That means that restoration will entail a temporary use of the Eden Machine to establish cover from a fast growing tree. Soil will also need to be manufactured, but that trick is in hand with the advent of biochar.

Restoring the native forest cover on the hillsides will restore natural ground water in the valleys were agriculture is undertaken.

Most of Israel and Palestine can become forested and water retaining with ample surplus available for human usage. The same applies north into Lebanon and Northern Syria as we restore the natural forests of the Fertile Crescent. Recall that the demands of the Bronze Age destroyed all these forests and soils. Yesterday’s post on Bronze makes this abundantly clear.

Solve water problems before peace deal: Abbas

4 days ago

ISTANBUL (AFP) — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas accused Israel on Thursday of forcing Palestinians to live in chronic water scarcity and declared a "rightful share" of water should not be tied to a peace deal.

In a message read at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, the Palestinian Authority president said Israel's unilateral control over rivers and aquifers meant scarce water resources were not being shared equitably "as required by international law."

Palestinians had four times less water per capita than Israelis living in Israel, a consumption level that fell far below the World Health Organization's guidelines for minimum daily access to water, Abbas said.

"The reason for this disparity has nothing to do with lifestyle between Palestinians and Israelis -- for when it comes to water all human beings have the same needs -- but due to Israel's control and inequitable distribution to the Palestinians," Abbas said.

"It is with dismay that I see 9,000 Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley utilise one-quarter of the water that the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank utilises," he said.

"It is also with dismany that we witnessed Israel's systematic de-development and destruction of Gaza's water infrastructure, where today only 10-20 percent of the water there is drinkable."

Abbas said the situation "is not only unjust, but unnecessary."

"Palestinians should not be forced to wait until a peace agreement is reached before (they are) allowed (their) rightful share of the transboundary water resources. Water is an essential human necessity that should not be subject to the dictates of a single party or used as a tool of control."

The statement was read at a press conference by Shaddad Attili, head of the Palestinian Water Authority.

Attili said Israel uses 90 percent of transboundary water resources, and Israelis have per-capita water consumption of 348 litres (76 gallons) per day; the Palestinians are alloted the remaining 10 percent, and have daily consumption of 78 litres (17.6 gallons) per day, compared to WHO recommendations of at least 100 litres (22 gallons) a day.

Abbas also said the Palestinian Authority, upon gaining statehood, would become party to a 1997 UN pact on water supplies that cross international boundaries.

This document -- the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses -- requires a country that controls an aquifer or watershed that straddles an international boundary to ensure other parties have equitable use of the water.

Only 16 countries have ratified the convention so far; 35 are needed before it becomes international law. France this month announced its intention to ratify.
In the Palestinian-Israeli case, the struggle over water supplies pertains to the basin of the Jordan River and a coastal aquifer that stretches underneath Gaza.

The World Water Forum has gathered more than 27,000 policymakers, corporate executives, water specialists and activists in a broad conference focused on the globe's worsening problems of freshwater. The seven-day event winds up on Sunday.

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