Small-scale Water Treatment Facilities for Domestic Use and

Artificial Recharge with Surface Water

UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education



Project Profile

Core Parties:    Israeli Partners: Water Commission, Mekorot Water Company

Jordanian Partner: Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI)

Palestinian Partner: Palestinian Water Authority (PWA)

External Support Agency: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Context: To implement regional research projects on Water Treatment and Artificial Recharge

Duration: 1 April 2002 – 31 March 2010



The general objectives are to identify and implement pilot studies in the fields of water treatment and artificial recharge which, if proven successful, can be applied on a wider scale by all three Core Parties. More specifically, the project includes the implementation of five pilot studies, the organization of a short course on groundwater modelling, the supervision of local MSc research and the dissemination of knowledge and experiences in the field of water treatment and artificial recharge.



This project was formulated in 1999 and implemented by IHE in April 2002. The duration of the 5-year project was later extended until April 2010. The project forms part of the water-related activities that are carried out in the framework of the EXACT programme for the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Core parties. The EXACT-IHE project includes the following five components:


I. Small-scale Treatment Facilities for Domestic Use

The EXACT meeting in London in April 2003 agreed to the following pilot studies: treatment of water from a well in Baq’a (Jordan) with high iron concentration, treatment of biological contamination of the Al Qilt spring, supplying water to the Aqbat Jabr Refugee Camp near Jericho (West Bank) and treatment of well Holon 8, contaminated with heavy metals and located in the industrial area near Tel Aviv. Although the raw water quality problems that have been identified are quite different, the problems appear to be a rather common phenomenon in the region.


The first pilot plant came into operation in October 2004. This treatment plant for the removal of iron has been supplying 6000 persons in the refugee camp Baq’a with good quality drinking water since then. Research on iron removal was carried out by MSc students at UNESCO-IHE and a local MSc student, staff member of the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) at the University of Jordan. A second MSc on the operation of the plant will be carried out in 2007/2008 in Jordan. MSc theses on these studies can be downloaded here. The plant has shown to be very efficient in the removal of iron and has already been copied to locations elsewhere in Jordan. In view of the shortness of good quality drinking water, the capacity of the pilot plant will be increased.


The existing water treatment plant supplying drinking water to the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp near Jericho has been upgraded. The activity was carried out in close cooperation with the PWA and the owner of the plant, UNRWA. The slow sand filters were completely renovated, covered and filled with new filter material. The governor of Jericho and the representative of the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah opened the upgraded plant in December 2006. The intake of water from the Al Qilt spring is now automatically discontinued if the quality is below standard. A training course for technicians operating the plant will be held in 2007. There are plans to add another treatment step to the plant in order to increase the water quality and the production of drinking water. An MSc student from Birzeit University carried out a study on the pollution and water quality of Wadi Al Qilt. The thesis can be downloaded here. A second MSc study by a student from Birzeit University will be carried out in 2007/2008.


Several studies on the removal of heavy metals from groundwater were carried out, both at UNESCO-IHE in Delft as well as in Israel at the Hebrew University. The MSc reports can be downloaded here. The research on chromium removal from groundwater in the industrial area Holon near Tel Aviv is carried out in close cooperation with the Water Commission and Mekorot. Results obtained from trial pumping showed a very variable chromium concentration, which depends on the location of the well, its depth and the pumping regime. It is obvious that this will complicate the operation of the pilot plant. After the agreement on the duty specifications, tender documents were prepared and contractors from Israel and The Netherlands have been invited. After the construction of the plant on 2007 a second MSc study will be carried out by a student of the Hebrew University.

2. Artificial Recharge with Surface Water

In 2003 two areas were identified for artificial recharge: Wadi Madoneh, a small catchment some 20 km east of Amman and Wadi Far’a, a basin on the West Bank, east of Nablus. The purpose of the study is to develop and implement methods to enhance the infiltration of flood water from the wadi in order to replenish the depleting groundwater water aquifers.


In the 1990s a study was carried out by the MWI of Jordan to identify areas and methods for the infiltration of surface water. One of the catchments mentioned in the report, Wadi Madoneh (37 km2) was selected for this pilot research. In 2004 this basin was equipped with hydro-meteorological instruments. The data collected were used for a hydrological study at UNESCO-IHE. The MSc report can be downloaded here.  Based on this study small dams were designed. The dams will retain flood water and release it slowly for infiltration in the wadi bed down stream. Five dams will be built in 2007 after which the infiltration process will be closely monitored. Two staff members of the MWI and the WAJ carry out an MSc research on this project at the Mu’tah University.


The headwaters of Wadi Far’a consist of two small basins (64 and 85 km2), which have been selected for the pilot study on artificial recharge on the West Bank. At the outlet of these subcatchments Parshall flumes were built by An Najah University of Nablus in the frame of the international GLOWA project. It was decided to cooperate with the research group of the university and the data collected by the hydro-meteorological instruments that were installed for this pilot study are shared. The research is carried out in collaboration with the PWA. An MSc study on the hydrology of the subcatchments was carried out at UNESCO-IHE. The thesis can be downloaded here. Two MSc students of the An Najah University are due to finish their thesis on the headwaters of Wadi Far’a in 2007/2008.


3 Groundwater Modelling Course

In January/February 2006 a two-week short course on Groundwater Modelling was held in Cyprus. The course was attended by five Israeli’s, five Jordanians and four Palestinians. The course covered theory and hands-on experience of both flow and contaminant transport modelling. The groundwater modelling course on Cyprus was regarded by all participants as a good example of practical training on this topic. The knowledge acquired can be applied in the Core Parties countries. The course is a fine example of a joint activity in good harmony by staff from all three Core Parties.


4 MSc research

The EXACT-IHE project includes fellowships for two local MSc studies related to each of the five pilot projects. The MSc students are often staff members of the associated organisations, or otherwise related to the research. Graduation occurs at a local university (University of Jordan, Mu’tah University, Hebrew University, Birzeit University and An Najah University) with staff from UNESCO-IHE as an external examiner. IHE staff is also involved in the supervision of the MSc students. The research topics are also used for regular MSc students at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, who have graduated on aspects related to the pilot projects.


5 Workshops on Water Treatment and Artificial Recharge

The problems tackled in the fields of water treatment and artificial recharge, are of interest to all three Core Parties. To share the experiences at the various study sites and to disseminate the results of the research, workshops have been planned for all professionals involved in the research, the (former) MSc students, staff from UNESCO-IHE and anybody else who has interest in the research topics. The first of a series of workshops is foreseen in September 2007 in Jerusalem.




For any additional information, please contact:


Pieter J.M. de Laat (Project Director)

P.O. Box 3015

2601 DA Delft

The Netherlands

Tel. : +31 (0) 15 2151715

Fax. : +31 (0) 15 2122921

Email :

Internet :