While the proposed long term remedy of constructing a waste water treatment plant for the Kidron/Nar Basin is on hold, Professor Laster and the Israeli and Palestinian experts with whom he works have identified a low-tech, locally supportable partial solution to mitigate the pollution problem, including protecting the ground water supply for the Mar Saba Monastery [click here for more information on the Mar Saba Monastery].
SIPP has contributed $5,000 to partially fund the first Constructed Wetlands Demonstration Project in the Kidron/Nar Basin. A school in Al-Ubeidyeh has been selected as the site for the demonstration project to enhance the educational value of the project. Along with SIPP and the Amuta, partners and participants include Al-Quds University and an Israeli Engineer.
The Constructed Wetlands Demonstration Project addresses the sewage problem by separating the solids, immediately upon it leaving a building. The liquid sewage then travels through a large trough that meanders with an impermeable liner filled with sand and specially selected plants. The sewage flows beneath the plants, and the organics in the liquid are broken down by the bacteria on the roots of the plants. The constructed wetlands becomes an aesthetically positive element for the community, and water that is discharged from the constructed wetlands is suitable for agricultural purposes. According to Professor Laster,
“[o]ur plan, with [Mayor] Suleiman’s permission, is to create an oasis of the entire town of Ubadia. That means we plan to start small with one pilot project and move on to many families and then to a community wide program. … We think that in the West Bank, for small communities without sewerage, [constructed wetlands] is the answer. It negates the need for expensive sewerage systems that need energy. It allows for families and extended families to grow crops in family and community gardens, and it is not energy intensive.”
Professor Laster is seeking to raise $350,000 for to develop a constructed wetlands for the entire community of Al-Ubeidyeh, but the hope is that once there is experience with the demonstration site, interest in the community will grow and costs will drop.
Another outgrowth of the Kidron Valley/Wadi Al Nar Project is the development of a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site located in Al-Ubeidyeh. This is the first and only LTER site located in Palestinian controlled territory. The July 2016 status report can be found here.