Today, at a ceremony in Halhoul, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Palestinian Water Authority announced the opening of the new Deir Sha’ar pipeline. The new pipeline will serve as the backbone of the southern West Bank’s water infrastructure and the majority of water reaching the region will flow through it. The Deir Sha’ar pipeline improves access to a reliable supply of potable water for 200,000 Palestinians, including residents of Halhoul, Hebron City, Al-Arrub Camp, Beit Ummar, Bani Naim, and Yatta in the Hebron Governorate. This $16.5 million two year project is one of USAID’s largest water sector investments in the last ten years in the West Bank. Attending the ceremony were Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah; Hebron Governor, Kamel Hemeid; Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Mazen Ghoneem; and USAID West Bank and Gaza Mission Director, Dave Harden.
“This is a very important accomplishment that will impact thousands of Palestinian families who will now have access to clean water in their homes,” said USAID West Bank and Gaza Mission Director Dave Harden. “The new pipeline also provides the West Bank Water Department the ability to track and manage water resources allowing them to be more accountable and resilient.”
This project replaced the existing thirty-year-old pipeline with a much larger 30 inch transmission line, installed 13 kilometers of network pipes, and upgraded 10 kilometers of road where the new main pipeline is installed.
Among the immediate benefits of the new pipeline is a drastic reduction of water losses. Prior to USAID’s intervention, residents of the region suffered chronic water shortages and supply interruptions due to water losses from the pipeline. The old Deir Sha’ar pipeline had a transmission capacity of 4.75 million cubic meters (MCM) per year, but nearly half was lost due to leaks. The new pipeline transmits 5MCM per year, without any losses, and has the capacity to transmit up to 26.3 MCM per year. The pipeline will be used to feed the Halhul reservoir, from which water will be transmitted throughout most of the southern West Bank via an existing network that includes the Ras At Tawil pipeline, which USAID completed on October 31, 2015. The Ras At Tawil pipeline links towns in the southern West Bank to the Palestinian Water Authority network, providing residents with a continuous water supply. In addition, the new pipeline is equipped with remote sensors that enable the Palestinian Water Authority and West Bank Water Department to detect any illegal taps or tampering, and to continuously monitor the system in real time for internal damages and leaks. The pipeline is also equipped with flow meters that help the Palestinian Water Authority and West Bank Water Department track and manage water resources in the West Bank.
Since 2000, USAID has invested more than $300 million dollars for hundreds of water and wastewater projects in the West Bank and Gaza. These included installing 900 kilometers of water pipelines; building or renovating 28 reservoirs; drilling or renovating 29 wells; connecting 130,000 Palestinians to running water for the first time; and providing improved access to clean water to more than one million people.