The Gaza coastal aquifer is historically the only natural source of water supply in the Gaza Strip. With a population of about 1.1 million and one of the highest natural birth rates in the world, the water resources of the Gaza Strip are under considerable strain, and future predicted demands far exceed available supplies. Overexploitation of the coastal aquifer has resulted in continuous lowering of regional water levels and a gradual worsening of water quality. The greatest threats to existing water supplies are seawater intrusion and upconing of deep, fossil brines. Continued urban and industrial growth will place additional stress on the system, unless appropriate planning and management actions are instituted immediately.
In recognition of this worsening situation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) have jointly developed and begun implementation of an Integrated Aquifer Management Plan (IAMP). The IAMP presents overall planning guidelines for water supply and usage through year 2020, with associated investment requirements for infrastructure facilities to meet all goals and objectives. Many of the engineering components of the IAMP were conceptualized and defined through the application of a regional-scale ground water model.
This paper presents the modeling conducted to simulate the effects of the IAMP. The model of the Gaza coastal aquifer is a fully 3-dimensional coupled flow and transport model, capable of simulating seawater intrusion, migration of brines, and transport of brackish water (i.e., density-dependent flow). Modeling results to date demonstrate that implementation of the IAMP will have overall beneficial impacts on the Gaza coastal aquifer, and it is predicted that seawater intrusion and upconing can be significantly reduced and/or stabilized over the next 20 years.
With the existing ground water model, the Palestinian Water Authority now has an added capability to manage its resource, and equally importantly, to demonstrate what will happen if required investments are not made