Proper use of the Judean aquifer could provide more than enough drinking water for Ma'aleh Adumim, Bethlehem and Hebron, according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Only one-fifth of the 100 million cubic meters of water absorbed on average each year into the aquifer are used, while the rest flows into the Dead Sea.
Currently, water on tap in Ma'aleh Adumim must travel hundreds of kilometers from the Kinneret through the national water carrier, despite the fact that the town is sitting directly above a much cheaper water source, the researchers said.
Negative effects on the Dead Sea's volume from increased use of the aquifer, which would draw supply from the shrinking sea, would be mitigated by the fact that the aquifer does not supply enough water to stop the sea's evaporation, in any event. Solving the problem would require "dramatic steps," said Prof. Haim Gvirtzman, who supervised the research of Leehee Laronne Ben-Yitzhak.
A second study, by doctoral student Eldad Levi, used remote sensing to determine the spatial distribution of saltwater and sweetwater in the Judean aquifer.
"The two studies have practical importance for the future development of groundwater for the well-being of Israelis and Palestinians living in the area, as well as for the preservation of natural resources along the Dead Sea," Prof. Gvirtzman said. "The government allocated this water to the Palestinians, who are unfortunately doing nothing to make full use of this available source of water."