ACWa Services dispenses drinking water in Gaza
Using a company-owned and operated water treatment plant, international water engineering company ACWa Services is providing the Levant population with regular supplies of high-quality drinking water from coin-operated machines in petrol stations.
The Gaza area has very little clean water resources but also has one of the highest overall growth rates and population densities in the world. High concentrations of nitrates in the region's water are extremely dangerous, particularly to small children, and can produce the medical problem known as 'blue babies'.
Following treatment by ACWa Services' sand filters and reverse osmosis (RO) membrane filtration process, treated water is kept in a 100m3 storage facility until delivered by company-owned and operated road tankers to petrol stations, light industries and hotels around the City of Gaza and other nearby areas of population.
Other towns and cities supplied in the Gaza region include Khan Yunus, Rafah, Bayt Lahiyah and Jabaliya.
Water from the treatment plant is mainly available form coin-operated dispensers installed in petrol station forecourts - a distribution method adopted due to the high leakage rate of the existing supply network, and to avoid mixing with lower-quality water.
ACWa has recruited local management and labour to operate the plant and provide all the necessary distribution services.
This new and challenging venture is a first for ACWa Services. While the company has successfully designed, constructed and operated a number of water and sewage treatment plants in various parts of the Middle East, this is the first time it has taken on the additional roles of water supplier and distributor to the public.
Speaking at the official opening of the plant in April this year, attended by a number of dignitaries (including Mr Aown Shawwa, the Mayor of Gaza), his Excellency Mr Nabil El Sharif, Chairman of the Palestine Water Authority, stated that the new water treatment utility was currently one of Gaza's most important projects, and a successful private initiative undertaken by ACWa Services.
'We are planning to start working as a water utility for the whole of the Gaza strip, which will be managed according to the private sector system. After only a few months of operation, we are already seeing water dispensers installed and operating effectively in petrol stations in all parts of Gaza.'
Mr Sharif went on to say that the cost of water would be fully controlled and regulated by the Palestinian Water Authority to ensure that the Palestinian people were not only supplied with high-quality water, but at an affordable price.
Mrs Valerie Brownridge MVO, HM Deputy Consul General from the British Consulate in Jerusalem, referred to the ACWa venture as an imaginative and generous project, commenting that water was one of the priority sectors for the British Aid programme in the West Bank Gaza Strip, because of the problems of supply, distribution and quality of water within the region.
Also present at the official opening ceremony was Lord Waverley, an active member of the UK's House of Lords, with a major interest in international affairs and overseas developments, particularly the Middle East where he has been actively involved in the development of a number of utility projects.
Better quality of life
'I am honoured to be associated with a project which can be demonstrated to provide a genuine improvement in the quality of life for the local community in a densely populated area such as Gaza - an area acknowledged as a water black spot,' said Lord Waverley.
The Gaza water treatment and supply project represents an ideal partnership between ACWa Services, a specialist water engineering company from the UK and the people of Palestine.