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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
During the last quarter of 2014, Dr. Khatib and his team continued with their water quality analysis. The preliminary results of the water samples from 50 rainwater harvesting cisterns were analyzed for the chemical (major ions) and microbiological (total/fecal coliform) characteristics. A new Master’s student was selected to work on the project as her thesis is closely related to the rainwater harvesting in Yatta town and its impact on people’s health. 

The team will continue to develop the Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool and will have it finished by the end of the project. The work will continue to be conducted with M.Sc. students from the Institute. Additionally, the project team will attend the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress (EWRI) in Austin, Texas, in May 17-21, 2015 and present their work there. While in the United States, the PI will also meet with the US partners to discuss and finalize the project and a paper for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
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