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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: December 2013 to December 2015
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
During the first quarter of 2015, the master’s students continued working on their theses. The new master’s student collected data from the field which included a household survey in addition to the collection and analysis of water samples from 50 rainwater harvesting cisterns. The samples were analyzed for the chemical (major ions) and microbiological (total/fecal Coliforms) characteristics. In April, U.S. partner Steven J. Burian from the University of Utah conducted a seminar for the team and colleagues entitled “Implementing Rainwater Harvesting Programs: Challenges and Solutions.”

 2-347_Al-Khatib in USA
 Dr. Issam Al-Khatib during his U.S. program visit (May 2015). Photo courtesy Dr. Issam Al-Khatib

For a second year in a row, in May of this year, Dr. Al-Khatib visited his U.S. partner Dr. Defne Apul at the University of Toledo. During this visit, Dr. Al-Khatib toured IHM motherhouse - one of the Midwest’s largest residential sustainable renovations registered with the U.S Green Building Council and also visited the Hoffman Road landfill, a major sanitary landfill in Toledo, where Dr. Al-Khatib had an opportunity to meet with its executive engineer and discuss issues related to the design, construction, operation, and maintenance issues of the landfill. Leachate production, landfill gas production and control were discussed as well. While at Toledo, Dr. Al-Khatib gave a presentation on his project and finalized his paper for presentation at the World Environmental and Water resources Congress (EWRI), which took place in Austin, Texas, May 17-21, 2015.  Dr. Al-Khatib interacted with leaders in his profession learning about its trends, participated in the policy dialogue on water resource and environmental issues affecting the profession, learned about the latest innovations and techniques being applied in the industry and projects being undertaken by clients and competitors, and went on technical tours that showed the most recent applications in the field. While at EWRI, Dr. Al-Khatib presented his paper titled “Household management of rainwater harvesting in developing countries: a case study from Yatta town, south West Bank Palestine”, which drew great interest from attendees.


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