Seawater desalination: first project opens in Gaza
Dozens of Palestinian engineers, technicians and workers have been busy implementing the first seawater desalination project in Gaza, which would partially solve the deteriorating water crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The plant is about 500 meters away from the coast of Deir al-Balah, Middle Gaza, and spans a total area of five acres. There are plans to make it the main water desalination plant in Gaza on an area of 80 acres.
Zidan abu Zuhri, a supervisor on the project, said that the importance of this project arose as specialized studies showed that water resources in the Gaza Strip have dramatically degraded. It’s become a must to look for alternative water resources to at least keep Gaza a livable place, he added.
The United Nations has concluded in a recent report that %97 of the Gaza Strip water is unfit for drinking or domestic use.
The project provides water for almost 75,000 people in the south of Gaza in three phases.
According to Abu Zuhri, the first phase is to remove impurities and suspended solids using layers of fine sand, rough gravel and carbon through which water seeps and gets purified. Then water is pumped into another device to remove smaller impurities and suspended solids.
In the third phase, the desalinated water is provided for the people through an 18-kilometer-long pipe.
The estimated annual consumption rate of drinking and agricultural water wells in the Gaza Strip is about 200 million cubic meters (cmc). And it is estimated to reach 260 (cmc) by the year 2020.
Stages of development
The supervisors of the plant said it would be developed through three stages. The first stage, which is the current stage, produces 6000 cubic meters of purified water a day. The second stage would reach 14,000 cubic meters; and funding has been ensured for the second stage. The third stage would produce 20,000 cubic meters a day.
Abu Zuhri said, “Desalinated water is being mixed with municipal water wells to reach the international water quality standards.”
“The main obstacle that delayed the start of the project is importing the needed machinery. The Israeli occupation viewed most of the machinery as dual-use and took time to allow them into Gaza,” he added.
One month to go
Rebhy el-Sheikh, the Palestinian Water Authority’s deputy chairman, stated that the first phase of the project cost 10 million euros to produce 6,000 cubic meters of desalinated water a day for 75,000 Palestinians in Rafah and Khanyounis cities.
He confirmed that the project is starting to pump water within a month, describing it as “the largest vital and strategic project in the Gaza Strip.”
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