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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
14 January 2005

USAID constructs wastewater plant

HEBRON, West Bank -
The American government is constructing a $2.4 million sewage pre-treatment facility that will help protect more than 480,000 people in the Hebron area from diseases associated with raw sewage flooding, U.S. aid officials announced Friday.

The wastewater treatment facility is being financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and is part of a package of projects being implemented to show the American people's support for the Palestinian people.

The project is the first stage in a major American aid venture -- construction of a $40 million Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant to the south of Hebron that will handle 15,000 cubic meters of sewage per day.

The facility will be built in phases -- the pre-treatment "screen and grit" facility in the Hebron industrial area, a 6.5 kilometer conveyance pipeline, an wastewater treatment facility using an organic process known as activated sludge, and a landfill project for treated plant solids.

The completed facility will convert treated sewage from the Hebron area into more than 5 million cubic meters per year of water re-usable for agriculture.

Hebron's raw sewage currently flows to the south through Wadi Es-Sammen and causes both local health problems and the potential for long term contamination of the Western Aquifer - which could have serious consequences for the water supply of both Palestinians and Israelis.

"Our first goal is to reduce health risks by eliminating wastewater flooding in public areas and homes," said USAID water engineer James Ruhl. "We also want to eliminate open sewers in the urban area which are real safety hazards."

Construction of the pre-treatment facility is expected to generate full-time jobs for 50 people for two years.

At the pre-treatment facility, the wastewater will be screened to remove rags, glass, rocks and other large debris. Mechanized rakes will constantly scrape the screens to remove the debris which will be disposed of as a solid waste.

The wastewater then passes into a tank where grit and other sandy materials are allowed to settle to the bottom. Grit and sand, being inorganic, cannot be removed by the biological treatment processes and, if not removed, can clog the machinery. The settled grit is removed from the tanks, washed to remove residual organic material and then disposed of as a solid waste.

The Israeli-Palestinian-American Water Committee, established by the Oslo Agreement, requested that USAID tackle wastewater treatment in the Hebron area to protect the drinking water aquifer and provide a new water source for agricultural purposes. The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) gave construction of such a facility its highest priority.

There are currently no wastewater treatment facilities serving urban areas in the southern West Bank. Ownership of the plant will be transferred to the people of Hebron when the construction is completed and its operation and maintenance will become the responsibility of the PWA and the Southern Water Utility (SWU).

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