The Growing Problem of Sewage and Wastewater in Qalqilia

The Growing Problem of Sewage and Wastewater in Qalqilia


The problem of the wastewater and sewage stemming from the damaged sewage network since October 2007 is still causing concern for the residents of the city of Qalqilia. The 8-inch sewage pipe which carries wastewater from the southwestern neighborhood of the city to the main sewage network inside the Green Line is severely damaged. The damage to this pipe was caused by the construction of the Israeli Racist Wall atop Qalqilia’s main sewage transport pipe.

According to Mr. Waleed Ju’eidi, Qalqilia Municipality senior employee, the construction of the Racist Wall has caused a great damage to the main sewage network of the city. Such damage has led to the collection of raw sewage water in the western side of the city near the Racist Wall causing health risks as well as to irreversible damage to the most fertile agricultural lands in the Governorate.


In accordance with its mandate and responsibilities, the Municipality has submitted a request to the Environment Department in the so-called Israeli “Civil Administration” in Bet El as to liaison with the relevant occupation authorities to perform the needed maintenance of the sewage network due to its presence in Area C. The “Administration” sent a team of engineers to the check on the network and to assess the situation on the ground. Its response, which came after long procrastination, was that there wasn’t any apparent damage to the network and, as such, no urgent maintenance of the network was needed. The team also indicated that the environmental pollution caused by the flowing raw sewage was “secondary” and not caused by main network damage. The Municipality responded through getting in contact with the Red Cross in the city to inform them of the current situation. In turn, the Cross communicated with the Israeli “Civil Administration” to solve this issue. Up to the time of writing of this report, no progress on the ground was reported.        


In an effort to mitigate the problem, the Municipality dug a 400-meter tunnel (see picture attached with case study) to haul the sewage from the damaged network towards a sewage passageway in the Wall west of the city. The tunnel was dug in an effort to prevent the formation of sewage pools that attract mesquites and other harmful insects that cause and transport diseases.


Pic.1: The tunnel dug up by the Municipality


Pic.2:One of the wastewater and sewage gates in the Israeli Racist wall.



Mr. Nidal Baker who lives near the damaged network expressed the following to the Land Research Center’s field researcher: ' We have been living here since 1978. The region was full of life and energy. The area upon which the Racist Wall was established used to consist of a number of farms that were considered the main source of income for the farmers of the City. The construction of the Wall caused massive damage to the agricultural lands in the City which meant the loss of the main and in some cases the only, source of income for a large number of farmers. The Wall also caused the destruction of the sewage system leading the whole region to become a health hazard especially during the summer season. Flies, mosquitoes, rats, mice and bad odors have become commonplace in the area and caused a number of ills for the Palestinians living near the sewage and wastewater pools formed due to the damaged network. My cousins and relatives are purposefully avoiding visiting me and my family due to the awful odor and sewage surrounding my house. During the winter season the situation becomes even worse as wastewater, sewage and rainwater mix all together and increase the potential for diseases and pollution. The mixed stream moves fast towards agricultural lands and even seeps into Palestinian houses nearby.


On the other hand, the water passageways constructed all along the Racist Wall in Qalqilia are considered to be yet another source of threat to the environment in the area; occupation forces have used these passageways occasionally to pump large quantities of wastewater and sewage into Qalqilia lands. The latest causality of such pumping is a 13-dunum piece of land in which its plants have become unsuitable for human consumption. The pumping has taken place over the past three years especially during the rainy season to the degree that the sewage has reached Palestinian houses 120 meters away from the Wall negatively affecting at least 8 Palestinian families. It is worth pointing out that Qalqilia Municipality, in association and coordination with a number of rights’ organizations, has exerted numerous efforts to stop the occasional pumping and to combat its negative effects. However, the procrastination of Israeli occupation forces has led to the worsening of the situation until it reached its current state.


City of Qalqilia:

The City of Qalqilia is located west of the West Bank on the Green Line. Its total area is 9,936.6 dunums of which 3,727.2 dunums is designated as a built-up area. The City of Qalqilia is surrounded by the Israeli Racist Isolation Wall at a length of 11.6 kilometers. About 2,000 dunums of its lands is currently isolated behind the Wall.   



Prepared by:
The Land Research Center

Categories: Environment