What is it about?

ABSTRACT: Global freshwater scarcity is imposing the demand for using non-conventional water resources for irrigation and non-irrigation purposes. Direct reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation is a widespread practice in arid and semi-arid regions, because of water shortage and scarcity. Water scarcity and the need for ecological sustainability have led to the introduction of treated wastewater as an additional water resource in the national water resources' management plans of Mediterranean countries. The use of wastewater for irrigation is an important tool for water resources' supplement. However, the reuse of effluent in irrigation can have negative impacts on crop quality and soil conditions, as well as on public health and the environment. Furthermore, inappropriate management of agricultural irrigation with treated wastewater can also pose problems for plant production and the physical and chemical properties of soils. This paper presents some approaches to understand the impacts of reusing treated wastewater. It also presents a critical analysis of the treated wastewater's reuse for irrigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), while shedding light on the water status in the OPT. The paper investigates the wastewater treatment and reuse for agricultural irrigation, especially in the lack of control of Palestinians on their own freshwater resources in the OPT. KEYWORDS Agricultural Irrigation, Freshwater Resources, Health and Environmental Impacts of Reusing Treated Wastewater, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Wastewater Characteristics, Water Shortage and Scarcity. FOR CITATION: Salem, H.S., Yihdego, Y., and Muhammed, H.H. (2021). The status of freshwater and reused treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Journal of Water and Health, 19(1), February: 120–158. https://doi.org/10.2166/wh.2020.216 and https://iwaponline.com/jwh/article-abstract/doi/10.2166/wh.2020.216/78664/The-status-of-freshwater-and-reused-treated?redirectedFrom=fulltext and https://iwaponline.com/jwh/article/doi/10.2166/wh.2020.216/78664/The-status-of-freshwater-and-reused-treated and https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345063663_The_Status_of_Freshwater_and_Reused_Treated_Wastewater_for_Agricultural_Irrigation_in_the_Occupied_Palestinian_Territories_httpsdoiorg102166wh2020216 and https://iwaponline.com/jwh/article-abstract/19/1/120/78664/The-status-of-freshwater-and-reused-treated and https://iwaponline.com/jwh/article/19/1/120/78664/The-status-of-freshwater-and-reused-treated?guestAccessKey=c3cd4204-2348-4113-a4ff-dcd7fbec4290

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Why is it important?

HIGHLIGHTS • This paper is novel because it is the first of its kind that thoroughly investigates, analyzes, and discusses several issues related to the status of freshwater and wastewater in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). • In particular, it investigates the status of wastewater treatment and reuse (WWTR) in agriculture in the OPT. • It discusses the geopolitical circumstances affecting freshwater, wastewater, and WWTR in the OPT. • It presents important recommendations to those concerned, including policy- and decision-makers, at governmental, nongovernmental, and academic institutions, as well as in the sectors of agriculture, industry, health, and the environment


In many countries around the world, domestic, industrial, and agricultural wastewater is either partially treated or untreated, and if treated, it is not fully reused or not reused at all. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (comprising the OPT), the four cases of wastewater (untreated, partially treated, and if treated it is not fully reused, or not reused at all) are present, which can be attributed to several reasons, including: (1) the geopolitical conditions due to the Israeli occupation and restrictions on the Palestinian people in the OPT; (2) the lack of programs on awareness and technicality of wastewater treatment and reuse; (3) the mismanagement of funding donated by international organizations for such projects; (4) the socio-cultural (mainly religious) effects; and (5) the national belief that Palestinians in the OPT have enough freshwater, especially the ground-water found in the aquifer systems underneath the OPT, which is controlled by Israel almost entirely. Therefore, Palestinians believe in having their rightful share of their own natural water resources rather than treating wastewater and reusing it, which comes with extra costs. Nevertheless, due to the Israeli control on the Palestinian rightful water resources; the impacts of global warming, cli-mate change, and droughts, as well as due to the population’s growth and development, the reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation and industrial purposes should be seriously considered by Palestinian farmers, as well as by the stone-cutting industry, in particular. The Palestinians in the occupied West Bank discharge no less than 85% (around 66 MCM/yr) of their sewage into open areas, causing one of the most hazardous environ-mental problems. On the other hand, another 78 MCM/yr are also dumped in the occupied West Bank by the Jewish settlers, making together no less than 144 MCM/yr. To continue understanding the unbalanced equation between the Palestinians and the Israelis, large amounts of the Israeli agricultural crops that are sold in the Palestinian markets in the OPT are irrigated with treated wastewater. Hence, if this is the case, it is worth Palestinian farmers benefiting from their own wastewater by treating and reusing it.

Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem

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This page is a summary of: The status of freshwater and reused treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Journal of Water and Health, December 2020, IWA Publishing,
DOI: 10.2166/wh.2020.216.
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