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Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable"

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Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable"

The Gaza strip faces a water crisis that will soon make it "unliveable" unless plans for a $500m desalination plant are approved by banks, delegates at a water conference in Stockholm were told this week.

Water for the 1.6 million people – half of them children and two-thirds refugees – who live in just 365 sq km of land bordering the Mediterranean comes entirely from the shallow coastal aquifer shared between Gaza, Israel and Egypt, which is only partly replenished each year by rainfall. Decades of overpumping and heavy pollution from salts and waste water has left the aquifer highly degraded and in danger of irreparable damage.

UN hydrologists say no more than 55 million cubic metres (mcm) of water should be abstracted a year, but present exploitation rates run at around 160mcm. If this continues, says the UN, it could result in the water table dropping to a point where massive sea water intrusion permanently dest…