34 No. 3
||Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives.
See also www.iupac.org/projects
The task group that is to assess the quality of the drinking water supplied to the population in the area including the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Israel (IUPAC project 2008-003-3-600) led a workshop during the recent Malta V conference. The Malta V Conference, held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, 4–9 December 2011, brought together 75 scientists from 14 nations of the Middle East and elsewhere, including Egypt, England, France, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Norway, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and USA.
The Environment, Air, Soil, and Water Quality Workshop included 3 sessions: Environmental Chemistry, chaired by Charles E. Kolb; Water Resources Management, chaired by Alfred Abed Rabo; and Collaborative Research Progress & Opportunities, chaired by Miriam Waldman and Heinz Hoetzl. A detailed program is available on the project webpage at <www.iupac.org/project/2008-003-3-600>.
The project task group includes members from Egypt, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, UK, USA. The results of their collaborative work were presented at the workshop. With an emphasis on the acute crisis of water and drinking-water quality in the region, the workshop dealt with the following topics:
- water resources and water quality management strategy and technology options
- the state of water resources, as well as the treatment and reuse of waste water
- drinking-water quality issues and evaluation of specific case studies
- practical solutions, enabling a safe and adequate drinking-water supply, water-quality control strategies as applied to the drinking-water supply and wastewater management
- standardization of data and databases, allowing comparison and validation across the region
- institutionalizing a network and alliance of regional and international experts working and contributing to water issues of regional importance
- contribution to regional coexistence and peace
In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian and Jordanian conflict, available water resources are fast reaching a state of irreversible damage. The crisis is affecting ecosystems as well as the livelihoods of residents and the related food security and poverty issues. However, the task group considers that the crisis could help to positively shape the water policies within and among countries, despite the different levels of economic development, giving rise to serious cooperation.
Water conservation and efficient demand management options, recycling of wastewater, and sea water desalination have emerged as the major options to fill the widening gap between demand and supply. Harnessing wastewater and seawater desalination to solve long-term water shortages could be a spring board for tangible regional cooperation, which at the same time would help to strengthen the basis for peace.
Wastewater reuse has become a valued, viable, and preferred resource where climatic and geographical features are suitable. In regions in which water is scarce, the urban population is fast growing, and demand for irrigation water is high, trade-offs between fresh water and treated effluent can allow an adequate supply of drinking water for domestic consumption. In parallel, the proper collection, treatment, and reuse of wastewater effluents would provide ample water for irrigation and restoration of aquatic ecosystems. For the long term, the reuse of wastewater effluents would be supplemented by large-scale sea water desalination, amounting to about 2000 million cubic meters per year by 2040. This option is facilitated by the breakthrough in reverse osmosis technology and the reduced cost of seawater desalination.
The availability of ample water from wastewater reuse and seawater desalination would allow the development and allocation of water based on technical and economic feasibility and not on water rights. This would also make possible the implementation of the most feasible projects, regardless of location within the region. Other instruments would include appropriate agricultural and trade policies, efficient management of water utilities, improved cost recovery, and targeted subsidies to poorer residents.
In terms of expansion and prospects, the task group foresees the need for the following potential environmental research projects:
- Environmental Impacts of Intense Desalination Activities
- Ground Water Remediation Technology Development and Demonstration
- Aquifer Recharging with Treated Waste Water
- Vision for a Sustainable Middle East and North Africa
- Equally important is the establishment of a regional alliance of Arab and Israeli scientists and engineers to address shared water resources and related health and environmental issues.
Several Research Model Options could be explored:
- Regional Team with Extra-Regional Advisors—International Sponsor(s)
- Regional Team—International Sponsor(s)
- Regional Team with Extra-Regional Collaborator(s)—International and Regional Sponsors
Lastly, several potential International Research Sponsors could be considered:
- Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research—U.S. National Research Council (NSF + USAID)
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- BMBF and GTZ
- Middle East Desalination Research Center
- United Nations Environmental Program
- CRDF Global and ONR Global
last modified 30 April 2012.
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