Middle East Monitor / March 21, 2020
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and the Palestinian Meteorological Department have disclosed that the average Palestinian consumes 87.3 litres of water per day.
This rate has reached 90.5 litres per day in the West Bank, according to joint statistics issued by the three institutions, while recording an improvement in recent years following the completion of water projects that have been able to boost the water resources and reduce waste.
Currently in Gaza, the per capita share has reached 83.1 litres, with a decrease of 5.2 litres compared with last year, as a result of the population growth. This takes into account the high water pollution rates and the amount of potable water fit for human consumption, divided by the population, which equals only 22.4 litres of fresh water per capita per day.
The average Palestinian consumes less than the minimum global recommendation of water consumption, as a result of Israeli control of more than 85 per cent of Palestinian water resources.
The quantity of water extracted from the coastal basin in the Gaza Strip amounted to 177.6 million cubic metres during 2018, which is considered inadequate. This has led to the depletion of water reserves to a level less than 19 metres below sea level and resulted in saltwater and wastewater intrusion into the reservoir, which constitutes more than 97 per cent of the coastal basin water, rendering it incompatible with World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
Palestine relies mainly on water extracted from underground sources, accounting for 77 per cent of available resources.
The amount of water drawn from the wells of the aquifers (the eastern, western and north-eastern aquifers) in the West Bank for the year 2018 reached around 99 million cubic metres. The limited use of surface water is mainly caused by the occupation authorities’ control over the waters of the Jordan River and prevention of Palestinians from using the water of the valleys.
According to data released in 2018, Palestine started producing quantities of desalinated water, which is expected to increase in the coming years, with the start of operating desalination plants in Gaza, to increase significantly with the implementation of the central desalination plant program.
The Israeli measures contribute to limiting the ability of Palestinians to exploit their natural resources, especially water, forcing them to compensate for the shortage by purchasing water from Israeli national water company, Mekorot. The quantity of water purchased for domestic use reached 85.7 million cubic metres in 2018, constituting 22 per cent of the amount of available water, estimated at 389.5 million cubic metres, 25.5 million cubic metres of which came from the water of Palestinian springs, 274.2 million cubic metres from underground wells and 4.1 million cubic metres of desalinated water.
By deducting the 177.6 million cubic metres of water extracted from the coastal basin in the Gaza Strip, for not complying with WHO standards, specifically removing 45.5 per cent of the water available for the use of Palestinians, Palestinians are only left with 211.9 million cubic metres, including the amounts purchased from Mekorot, desalinated water and groundwater.
The data provided by the Palestinian Meteorological Department for the year 2019 shows that precipitation rates ranged between 780mm in the Nablus station and 137mm in the Jericho station, while the average annual rainfall was 660mm in the Nablus station and 166mm in the Jericho station. The amounts of rain were concentrated in most governorates in the month of December.
The 2019 meteorological report indicated that temperatures have tended to be higher than average for most stations. The highest increase was reported at the Jericho station by 2.5°C, while it was 0.2 per cent below the overall average for the Ramallah station.
The same report conveyed that the evaporation rates in Palestine have increased in most of the available stations, with the highest level of evaporation at the Jericho the station reaching 2.416mm and the lowest at Ramallah station by 1.708mm.
The data confirmed that the relative humidity for the year 2019 ranged between 43 per cent in the Jericho station and 75 per cent in the Nablus station. The lowest annual relative humidity was recorded in May reaching 29 per cent in the Jericho station, while the highest rate was recorded in March at the Ramallah station, reaching 87 per cent.