(AFP/Abbas Momani, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamallah and European Union representative Ralph Tarraf on Sunday laid the pave-stone of the first wastewater treatment plant in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas.
An EU statement said the "large-scale project" would serve around 34,000 people living in Tubas city as well as the outlying villages of Tayasir and Aqqaba. It is also set to provide treated water for agricultural use for farmers across the district.
Tarraf said: "Access to clean water is a fundamental human right. Palestinians are not just facing severe drinking-water shortages but also limited quantities for agricultural use. This comes together with the issue of untreated wastewater which has very negative consequences on health and environment."
There has to date not been any sewage network in the area. The statement said that wastewater from Tubas district "flows untreated into the environment reaching agricultural areas and surrounding villages either through the cesspits and vacuum trucks."
The project is expected to "significantly reduce health risks for the population of Tubas and contamination of the environment. It will also allow the re-use of treated wastewater in agriculture hence conserving limited groundwater resources in Palestine," the statement said.
The 24 million dollar project consists of a wastewater treatment plant, sewage collection network and an irrigation scheme for the reuse of treated water. It is expected to be completed in September 2017.
According the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have on average access to 60 liters of water per day -- far below the World Health Organization's recommended daily 100 liters of water per person.
Israeli rights group B'Tselem estimates that Israeli citizens consume an estimated daily average of 183 liters of water, per person -- three times more than Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Since 2011, the EU has invested nearly 104 million dollars in the water, sanitation and solid waste management sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory.