Project Details Regional Drinking Water Quality Assessment in the Near East (Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Israel) - An Overview and Perspective

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 February 2009
End Date:
29 February 2016
Division Name:
Chemistry and the Environment Division
Division No.:


The objectives of this project are:
To assess the quality of the drinking water supplied to the population in the working area (Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Israel)
To identify major anthropogenic pollutant sources
To standardize drinking water and waste water sampling and testing methods and comparative risk analysis
To recommend feasible strategies for remediation and treatment, both in general and for selected cases, in particular.


A fast increasing population in the working area, on the one hand, and the increased pressure on the scarce water resources coupled with poor conservation of the environment and inadequate treatment of point and non point sources of pollution, on the other hand, have caused a rapid degradation of chronically depleted water resources. Further, frequent droughts that increase water scarcity coupled with the deterioration of water resources and the environment are a significant component of the ongoing conflicts in the region in general and for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in particular.

Trans-boundary movement of pollutants from one entity to another endanger the water resources and the drinking water quality as reported in a joint study, conducted by Palestinian and Israeli scientists (Tal et al., 2006), which evaluated the water quality in the Alexander, Hebron and Bsor Rivers. This report emphasized the increasing risks to the quality of water bodies shared between the PA and Israel and especially the health risk to populations who are dependent on water resources without adequate monitoring and treatment.

Much effort is being invested in collection and treatment of wastewater generated from major urban centers Emergency measures, such as detention pools and wetlands are being built to detain urban wastewater to absorb part of the pollutants (Tal, 2007 and Tal et al., 2007). The desired improvements are not yet apparent and the health risks are growing, as presented in the recent Workshop on Sustainable Air & Water Quality in the Middle East Malta III, sponsored by IUPAC and other agencies, in Turkey (Kolb et al., 2007). An important by-product of the Malta III Workshop was its focus on the severe deterioration of both the quality and quantity of water available to the population in Middle Eastern countries and its critical impact on their peoples health and well being. This class of problems were judged to be the most pressing environmental issue facing the region by the Malta III Workshop participants.

Following the above findings, the aim of this project is to conduct, under a multinational collaborative effort, an independent assessment of current and prospective deficiencies in fresh water quality within the project’s defined area. The project will provide consistent data on existing water quality conditions and assess means of remediation and treatment, including comparative risk Assessment (Tal and Linkov, 2004), leading to alleviation and mitigation of poor water quality and environmental degradation.

Main Tasks
Study and evaluation of critical water resources and water quality issues of relevance to the defined working area, as whole.
Evaluation of water quality control strategies, regarding domestic water supplies and waste water collection and treatment
Conservation of aquifers and ecosystems, as well as reuse of wastewater.
Treating specific critical issues and relevant case studies.
Recommendation of uniform and applicable water quality standards, enabling regional water management and valid inter comparison of water quality data across the region.

Anticipated Impact
Establishment of a regional alliance of scientists and engineers to work and advise on environmental issues of regional importance
Review of regional water quality issues and evaluation of specific case studies
Recommendations to policy makers and other stakeholders on water quality management strategy and technological development options
Contribution to coexistence in the region.

Due to the severe drought of the last 5 years, water scarcity issues and water quality degradation in the region are worsening and the possibility to deal with these issues, involving experts from the region and beyond, divorced from the strong political conflict would be of importance to the professional community.


A project kick-off meeting is planned for November 2009 and to be held jointly with MALTA IV.

> report from kick-off meeting published in Chem. Int. March-Apr 2010

Jan 2012 update – The Environment Workshop and the IUPAC Project Session were held as part of the Malta Conferences Foundation which took place at UNESCO HQ in Paris, France between Dec 4 and 9, 2011. Read report prepared Y. Shevah (pdf-23KB) or published in Chem. Int. May-June 2012, p. 22.

Feb 2016 update – Project output includes the following publications:

Shevah Y. (2014). Water scarcity, water reuse, and environmental Safety. Pure Appl. Chem. 2014; 86(7): 1205-1214; DOI:10.1515/pac-2014-0202

Shevah Y. (2014) Adaptation to Water Scarcity and Regional Cooperation in the Middle East. In: Ahuja S. (ed.) Comprehensive Water Quality and Purification, vol. 1, pp. 40-70. Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Shevah Y. (2015). Water Resources, Water Scarcity Challenges, and Perspectives. In S. Ahuja, J.B. de Andrade, D.D. Dionysiou, K.D. Hristovski & B.G. Loganathan (Eds). Water Challenges and Solutions on a Global Scale. Chapter 10, pp 185-219. ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1206. DOI:10.1021/bk-2015-1206.ch010 (online 3 Dec 2015)

Project completed

Page last updated 29 Feb 2016