Gaza´s desalination and sanitation plants threaten to stop

Eng. Munther Shiblak, Director General of the Coastal Municipalities Water Authority, revealed details of the water crisis in the Gaza Strip, the challenges that threaten to stop the work of the department in the future, and highlighted achievements and projects.

In an interview with a local newspaper, Shiblak said that from 2011 to 2019, we were able to implement a short set of solutions.

We have begun the process ing of sustainable solutions, despite the passage of two wars and rounds of escalation during this period.

He explained that in record time all the destruction of all that was destroyed by the occupation during the two wars and the rounds of escalation at a cost of about $35 million for the last war in the summer of 2014, and about $5 million for the damages of the 2012 war, from the funds of donor institutions. Shiblak stressed that the Palestinians have the ability and competence to invent solutions, pointing out that the donor institutions are involved in finding solutions and began to think seriously about differentiating the political situation and the need of citizens in Gaza.

"Rolling Water"

 In a related context, Shiblak revealed a program launched by his interest and developed by the Water Authority and carrying the "Rolling Water Program", which is to work strategic solutions according to the national plan.

He stated that this program needs time, funding and a comfortable internal and external political situation, which is not currently possible as a result of the blockade, adding: "Therefore, the program has been divided into temporary solutions."

The temporary solutions, according to Shiblak, consisted of three small seawater desalination plants, one in the northern Gaza Strip, one in the centre and the third south of Deir al-Balah, as well as three sewage treatment plants ,most of which are "finished." With regard to desalination plants, Shiblak said the North station has been operating experimentally since August, and is expected to produce 10,000 cubic liters for Gaza City as the largest population and the political and economic capital of the Gaza Strip.

He said some citizens in the area west of Gaza City have recently begun to feel a positive change in the quality of water that they have been receiving.

According to Shiblak, the water authority will receive and operate the plant after experimentation from the contractor, serving approximately 250,000 residents in the beach area up to the southern sands about 2 square kilometers deep.

He warned that there was a financial problem with the operational staff required for the North Station, indicating that his interest had demanded that the water authority secure government support or a budget for the recruitment and training of a new crew, as happened at the South Station.

He said: "If we fill it today and the Municipality of Gaza as a beneficiary commits to pay the local water bill that it distributes to the population and collects its price, we will be able to appoint a crew, but there are no commitments from the municipality in this regard."

He added: "We are all in Gaza managing a crisis unfortunately and not running sectors," he said, explaining that the water authority will have to operate the north station for two or three hours a day with a crew from headquarters, until there is an operational budget.

The desalination plant in Deir al-Balah currently produces 6,000 cubic liters, he said, adding that it is mixed up in order to double the quantity and reduce the cost.

The station will serve residents of Deir al-Balah and Zawaida and is expected to reach Al-Maghazi and Al-Brij, he said.

With regard to the third station south of Deir al-Balah, which is funded by the European Union, the first phase of the phase was opened more than a year ago in the presence of then Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and water authority chief Mazen Ghoneim.

He explained that in the first phase of this plant, 6,000 cubic liters were operated, while the water reached the areas of Al-Amal neighborhood west of Khanyounis and Tal Al-Sultan in Rafah, pointing out that a contractor has been allocated to complete the second and third phases together, so that the production reaches 20,000 cubic liters.

The station is supposed to cover the south of Deir al-Balah, in the centre and south of the Gaza Strip, to the Rafah area and the eastern villages, when its production reaches 20,000 cubic liters after the completion of the second and third phases. As the shibpers spoke.

As a result, when the plant production is mixed (20,000 cubic liters, 6,000, 10,000), it will be available from 70,000 to 72,000 cubic liters, which can cover the needs of half of the gaza strip's population most affected by high salinity, with total consumption now from 155,000 to 160,000. Liter cubic.

He pointed out that there is another source of water for the rest of the population of the Gaza Strip, explaining that his interest receives 10 million cubic liters from the Israeli side, covering the eastern areas of Gaza City, which comes about 5 million cubic liters through the area of "Nahal Oz" and is transported from the Tank al-Mantar to the east and center of Gaza City.

He noted that there are some areas in Gaza that do not suffer from salinity, pointing out: "But we will have water from three sources, namely, the Israeli desalination and mokraut, and some wells scattered in the Gaza Strip," he said, adding that "when these sources are completed in 2020, we may have passed the stage etc." "Tare'?"

In this regard, he revealed the existence of an agreement that has not yet been implemented with the Israeli "McKraut", so that the water coming from it to the Gaza Strip will rise from 10 to 20 cubic liters per year.

He stressed that the strategic solution is to start and finish the completion of the central desalination plant, explaining that there is approximately 80% of the funding needed to complete it", "according to the latest report we have received from the Water Authority." Speaking shiblak.

He said: "The current desalination plants, the kraut and this program, can make us cover the needs of the population in a logical way until 2025.

In another file, Shiblak reviewed the reality of the work of the five sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip (Beit Lahiya station in the north, Sheikh Ajlin, Wadi Gaza, west of Khanyounis, Tel Al-Sultan).

He said that the Beit Lahia station was almost closed, as the north 'sewers' go towards the new station," adding that the Sheikh Ajlin station in Gaza City has been diverted from the Water Authority in cooperation with the Gaza Municipality and the Water Authority funded by the German government, and can be operated until 2025.

In another file, Shiblak reviewed the reality of the work of the five sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip (Beit Lahiya station in the north, Sheikh Ajlin, Wadi Gaza, west of Khanyounis, Tel Al-Sultan).

He said that the Beit Lahia station was almost closed, as the north 'sewers' go towards the new station," adding that the Sheikh Ajlin station in Gaza City has been diverted from the Water Authority in cooperation with the Gaza Municipality and the Water Authority funded by the German government, and can be operated until 2025.

Shiblak revealed that 50% of Sheikh Ajlin's sewage will be diverted by the end of 2019 to the new plant east of Al-Bureij.

The Gaza Valley station, according to Shiblak, is temporary and is unable to function efficiently, but is supposed to be shut down with the start of operation of al-Bureij station.

He stated that the Khanyounis station is "temporary transition", indicating that it will be closed as soon as the new plant east of Sofa is operational before the end of 2019."

Shiblak continued that The Tel Sultan station has been introduced for development twice, in order to be able to serve Rafah governorate until the year 2025, pointing out that the establishment of a station there and will be tried soon and will be expanded in the future to accommodate the "sewers" Of Rafah, that it will be integrated in the future with Khanyounis, where it requires the provision of a plot of land near it.

He confirmed that all sewage treatment plants in the western regions will be closed in the future between 2025 and 2030, making all the "sewers" of the sector in the eastern regions.

Three strategic plants will be in the eastern regions of central, north and south of the Gaza Strip, to absorb sewage, be treated and reused in agriculture, he said.

According to Shiblak, the plants are developed to operate around the clock, and are stopped by the plant operator, but the power crisis currently makes them work only 8 hours ."For example"."

In a related context, Shiblak noted that a dispute had arefore ailing between the contractor and the water authority over the North Station, which led to its withdrawal, expecting it to be a "financial problem" as well.

He pointed out that there are negotiations between the contractor and the water authority, the water authority and the Ministry of Finance in order to pay the amount, adding: "We must receive them with clear statements and files, and a memorandum of understanding is signed between the authority and the water authority by official delivery."

He called on the responsible authorities of the Water, Local and Financial Authority to find a solution to this very important issue, warning that not operating the plant would cause environmental and humanitarian damage to the surrounding citizens.

He warned that the failure to operate the plant could put us in a critical position for donor institutions that help us develop our water and environmental resources, stressing that the water file should be outside the alphabetof division.

In the same vein, he expressed pride in what had been achieved with donors on the Al Bureij station, indicating that from the outset it had been agreed with the German donor government that it was ready to develop three to five years of funding, including the appointment of the operational team.

He was working with the central and Gaza municipalities to sign an agreement together with an increasing lysine contribution, noting that the donor had set a five-year, but decreasing, requirement for more municipalities.

On the south station, he hinted that there are negotiations with the Islamic Development Bank (Donor) to secure the remaining investment expenses for the project that has been completed, and to transfer it to operational expenses until the economic situation improves.

Electricity is the biggest challenge and in terms of the challenges facing the work of the water authority, he explained that the chronic problem is electricity, asking: "Can the electricity company give me electricity for at least 12 or 16 hours a day when the lines and poles arrive."

He noted that the Water Authority is trying to find an alternative to normal electricity through the construction of a solar power plant, noting that this alternative needs large areas and costs.

According to Shiblak, the central desalination plant is ready and produces 6,000 liters, but it has not yet received permanent electricity to operate it, while the south station needs 3 megawatts but has no electricity more than 8 hours a day.

He said solar power has been installed for the desalination plant in the south, but it gives only half of the three needed megawatts, stressing that the three desalination plants are ready to operate, but that the electricity problem cannot be fully operational.

Another challenge, the financial capacity to continue operating desalination and sewage plants, also touched on the need for spare parts, operational staff, electricity and chemical bills.

He said: "It is assumed that the citizen did not pay his bill, you need another party to pay it, so we knocked on the doors of the donor institutions in this regard,"" he said, referring to the low rate of levies, especially in Gaza City, where in some areas it amounted to less than 20.%

He added: "Desalination and processing cost is high,"" he said, noting that the cost of operating the current water utility was $40 million per year, and with the plants entering the service respectively, it is expected to jump to $80 million over the next five years.

"Everywhere in the world, there is a commitment from the government to support services such as food, electricity and water, but in the light of the political division who will pay and the citizen is unable to do so."

"We have achieved a national achievement and found solutions to the water and sanitation problem, and then stop if we can't pay the operating bill," he said, warning that the plants are threatening to stop at any moment.


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