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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Rainwater harvesting analysis using Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool

PI: Issam Al-Khatib (Birzeit University)
U.S. Partners: Defne S. Apul (University of Toledo) and Steve Burian (University of Utah)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016
Rapid population growth and political issues associated with control over Palestinian water and land resources have exacerbated problems of water supply and management. Many Palestinian localities in the West Bank suffer from shortages of domestic and agricultural water mainly during the summer months, when the water shortage makes everything difficult. Water scarcity can be considered as a major constraint for economic and social development and sustainability of the domestic and agricultural sector in the West Bank. Rainwater harvesting systems (RWH) can play an important role in creating a realistic and sustainable environment in the future. Their use in drinking, domestic, and agricultural sectors not only compensates for the shortage of water but also reduces the chances of severe floods causing widespread damage. This project will analyze the different aspects of rainwater harvesting through the development of a Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool (WHEAT), which is a new and extensible sustainability modeling and analysis framework. The data, models, results, and developed relations produced in all tasks (i.e., assessment of socioeconomic and water-related topics at household and community scale and hydrological assessment within the community boundaries and adjacent watersheds) will be integrated in WHEAT. This tool will be used to assess the impact of any intervention on the water sector in the target community, including water, economy, and social impacts.
The proposed work has an impact on construction and on locality and storm water infrastructure design and analysis, which are key environmental issues. If the results of the project are promising, it should provide incentive to the population to begin harvesting rain water. Through the involvement of the U.S. partners in project and research activities, three Master's-level students will be trained. Research results will be integrated with other Palestinian universities in the West Bank and in civil engineering courses taught at the University of Toledo and University of Utah. The capacity of three faculty members at the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies at Birzeit University will also be enhanced through collaborative research visits to the U.S. partners. The results of this research will be of interest for the Palestinian Water Authority, Ministry of Local Government, municipalities, local councils, and hydrology professionals in the West Bank.
Summary of Recent Activities
The start of the project was delayed several months because of administrative problems, but a project team was assembled and a detailed work plan developed during the late winter and early spring of 2014. Dr. Al-Khatib has selected two Master’s students to work on the project. The first will be involved in the socioeconomic analysis and mapping of the study area, while the second will mainly focus on hydrology and rainfall analysis. Key stakeholders in the target area have also been introduced to the project, and initial feedback on its objectives has been positive, particularly due to water restrictions in the area. Efforts have commenced for defining the indicators to be measured in the household survey, which was in draft stage by early spring 2014.
In the next few months, a general literature review will be conducted to look into existing practices and potential rainwater harvesting in the West Bank. Dr. Al-Khatib and his colleagues will also be collecting more detailed hydrological and historical meteorological data, as well as information on the location of potential water resources, ownership and management of water resources, historical discharge and extraction rates, water quality, and pollution sources. These data will be analyzed to identify possible trends. In addition to household surveys, structured interviews are to be conducted with members of village councils, government officials, and other potential sources. An information checklist will also be developed to collect data on a community level, including maps, photos, technical information, regulations and requirements, and urban planning considerations for the target region.
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