New desalination technology to help Palestinian farmers

The final goal is to build an off-grid desalination system powered by solar energy.

A potato grows in a field irrigated by recycled waste water in Kibbutz Magen in southern Israel November 15, 2010 (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A potato grows in a field irrigated by recycled waste water in Kibbutz Magen in southern Israel November 15, 2010
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Desalination technology developed by the University of Birmingham in cooperation with academics and students in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority is going to help Palestinian farmers to fight water shortages, the UK institution announced in a statement on Thursday.
According to the statement, the equipment is going to be especially convenient to use because it is built from off-the-shelf parts and can be deployed easily and cheaply.
The prototype has been trialed in Israel and the UK and the field tests in the Palestinian Territories are going to start soon.
“Our work demonstrates a successful example of researchers and students working across borders to create easily deployable technology that is solar-powered and helps to conserve precious groundwater,” project leader Philip Davies from the University of Birmingham said.
“This research and development program demonstrates a valuable approach in regions facing transboundary water challenges. The achievements of this project have been possible because of coordinated efforts among UK, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian scientists,” he added.
According to data published from NASA’s GRACE satellite mission, the Middle East lost in excess of 144 cu.km. of fresh water between 2006 and 2013, equivalent to the volume of the Dead Sea.
“The Middle East is a region that is drying out and losing water faster than almost every place in the world. That should be a cause for concern on its own,” hydrologist Prof. Jay Famiglietti, director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada told The Jerusalem Post in September. 
“When we think about what it means for international relations, complex relations in the Middle East and for growing food, this is a huge problem that not enough people are talking about,” Famiglietti, who previously served as senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, added.
The University of Birmingham stated that a group of its students was already working in a new stage of the desalination project, together with students at Aston University and local partners at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies in Israel and at the Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group in the West Bank.
The final goal is to build an off-grid desalination system powered by solar energy.
Eytan Halon contributed to this report.