In contrast to Gaza, the West Bank lies in a mostly sub-humid climate where bountiful rainfall provides for high groundwater recharge rates into the shared Mountain Aquifer, which consists of three basins – the Eastern, North-Eastern and Western Aquifer Basins. Among these three basins the Western Aquifer Basin or Western Aquifer is the purest and most abundant ground water reserve in the region. Israel has prevented Palestinians from drilling a single new well in the Western Aquifer since 1967.
According to a World Bank study, “about 85% of the recharge of the Western Aquifer is in the West Bank.”[i] But the Israeli military is limiting Palestinians to a mere 6% of this precious resource. If Palestinians had access to only half of the sustainable yield of this aquifer, Palestinians’ total water supply in the West Bank would double.[ii]
This cross-section of the Mountain Aquifer shows that within the West Bank the land above the Western Aquifer is mountainous and has sharp inclines. Only a relatively narrow strip along the Green Line has productive conditions as the slopes and mountains are unproductive. Israel has constructed the Segregation Wall or Apartheid Wall to capture these future abstraction zones.
[i] World Bank (2009), “Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development,” p. 35.
[ii] The “estimated potential” of the Western Aquifer at the time of Oslo was 362 million cubic meters. According to the Israeli Water Authority, total water supply to Palestinians today is 180 million cubic meters annually in the West Bank. Israel Water Authority (April, 2009), “The Issue of Water between Israel and the Palestinians,” (p. 15).