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How Gaza's electricity crisis is becoming Israel's water catastrophe

The inability to treat wastewater in the Gaza Strip because of a lack of electricity is threatening to contaminate the water supplies of Gaza as well as Israel unless immediately addressed.
A Palestinian boy helps his mother remove the sewage water that flooded into their house during a power cut at Shatti (beach) refugee camp in Gaza City September 15, 2015. Power has been provided to different areas in the impoverished coastal territory in six-hour shifts as Gaza's lone power plant shut its generators on Saturday due to a fuel shortage, energy officials said. Electricity is also supplied to the Gaza grid through power lines from Israel and Egypt. Gaza's plant provides electricity to two-thir

The electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip is no longer just the problem of the 1.8 million Palestinians who live there or of the Hamas regime. The chronic power deficit is creating environmental repercussions that threaten Israel’s water reservoirs, sewage system and environmental quality. In May, Gaza’s sewage system collapsed, and raw sewage reached the water reservoir of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Gaza’s sewage plants have ceased functioning due to the lack of electricity, and left wastewater flows into Israel untreated.

“Without electricity, water cannot be produced and wastewater cannot be treated,” said Eilon Adar, a hydrologist and the former director of Ben-Gurion University’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology in Beersheba. “An aquifer knows no borders. Water does not stop at a border. At the moment the damage is negligible, but Gaza is now dumping its untreated wastewater near the Beit Lahia wastewater treatment plant. This site, founded a number of years ago with Israel’s agreement, is only about 200 meters [660 feet] from Israel’s border and the [effluent] ‘lake’ seeps into the coastal aquifer.”

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