Water Resources in Gaza

In Gaza the Coastal Aquifer is basically the only source of ‘freshwater.’  Aquifer levels are extremely low, the aquifer is highly polluted and the salinity level is sharply increasing.  Up to 95% of the 116 municipal supply wells in Gaza that tap into the aquifer produce water that isn’t fit for human consumption, as chloride levels are greater than 250 mg/l.  It is important to note that the British Hydrological Service observed overpumping of the Coastal Aquifer as early as 1933 before the territory became overcrowded as a result of the 1948 War.

The map of Aquifer Levels in Gaza shows that the aquifer levels are most depleted in Gaza City (population 450,000) and Khan Younis / Rafah (joint populations 251,000).  Contrary to common assumption, the increase in salinity of the aquifer in Gaza comes from Israeli territory in the east, and not from seawater intrusion.  The contour of the aquifer portrayed in this map is in line with this conclusion.  As a result of Israeli obstruction of wastewater treatment plants, untreated and partially treated sewage is being released into the ground and into the sea.

Gaza is a city and is best supplied like other cities, i.e. not from within city boundaries. Desalination plants are un-ecological, dependent on fossil fuels, highly expensive, unsustainable, and easily disrupted.  According to international water law, Gaza has a right to an equitable and reasonable share of water from the Coastal Aquifer within Israel.


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