First stage of Gaza desalination project completed

The European Union and UNICEF have marked the completion of the first component of their joint project with Palestine’s water utilities to construct a Euro 10 million (US$ 11.2 million) desalination plant which will provide over 75,000 Palestinians with drinking water in Gaza.

The construction of the desalination plant on land adjacent to the sea north of Khan Yunis and the procurement of water-treatment equipment will be completed in the coming months. The plant is expected to start operating by the end of the year.

The first component – an 18km long pipeline - has been completed. It will transfer 6,000 m³ of desalinated seawater from the planned plant to at least 35,000 Palestinians living in Khan Yunis, and 40,000 in Rafah, southern Gaza.
The European Union and UNICEF launched the construction phase of the four-stage project in March 2014. The project is led by The European Union and UNICEF in partnership with the Palestinian Water Authority and Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities.
“The needs in Gaza for fresh water are huge. Nearly 95% of water in Gaza is considered unfit for human consumption. Enormous efforts are needed to ensure that Gazans can access fresh water,” said European Union representative, John Gatt-Rutter.

Seawater desalination is one of the strategic options chosen by the Palestinian Water Authority to help provide 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza – including nearly one million children – with clean water.
A comparative study conducted in 2011 concluded that desalination of seawater from the Mediterranean was essential to curb over-extraction of groundwater from the coastal aquifer, and to prevent an environmental disaster with the total collapse of this aquifer.
A 2012 United Nations’ report warned that over-extraction could render Gaza’s sole aquifer unusable by 2016.