Water management with wastewater treatment and reuse, desalination, and conveyance to counteract future water shortages in the Gaza Strip
Groundwater is the only freshwater source available for the Gaza Strip of Palestine, but Gaza groundwater is heavily polluted from agricultural activities and seawater intrusion. Water resource planners therefore have to find innovative alternate sources of water to minimize existing and future deficits. Possible management options include the use of treated wastewater (TWW), desalination, and conveyance of water between locations based on the demand. However, these options require significant funding and therefore, economic evaluation. Sophisticated economic and mathematical tools are now available that allow such analyses. A water allocation system model was used to economically evaluate various options for the projected water demands in 2010, 2020, and 2030. Results show that the use of TWW in agriculture can significantly increase net benefits and reduce water prices. However, any reduction in groundwater pumping can impact net benefits and increase water prices if additional supply is not found. Similar observations were made with the shadow value of water. However, water deficits cannot be accommodated with the existing supply including the use of TWW in agriculture. A combination of TWW use and desalination can increase the supply in an economically competitive manner while reducing groundwater pumping to minimize seawater intrusion. The increased net benefits and profits derived from such supply enhancements surpass the costs to rebuild and maintain the required infrastructure for the Gaza Strip.