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From Scarcity to Abundance: Greywater in Palestine

By: Max
September 15, 2011

Last week I went with FoEME’s Palestine Director, Nader Khatib, to see the greywater system in his house. When we arrived, nothing about his house seemed out of the ordinary. Like almost all Palestinian homes, there were several large black water storage tanks on top of his roof. This is because in Palestine the water does not run 24 hours a day, but instead, is turned on for short periods of time – anywhere from a couple of times a week to once every 3-4 weeks. However, unlike most homes in the West Bank, which suffer from water shortages each summer, Nader’s family rarely is without water, thanks to his simple but effective greywater system.

Keep it Simple

Nader shared with me that his original intent when building the system was to create something that was both simple and accessible for Palestinians. He firmly insisted that “it has to be easy and made from materials that are not expensive and are easy to find, so normal people can use this in their home.” From the first storage tank I saw, to the roof top filtration system that uses materials like sand and gravel, this system looked easy enough to set up and use. When his house was being built Nader had separate greywater and black water pipes put in—most homes do not have both—which made setting up this system easier. In total, it only cost about $2,000 to buy all the materials and about 3-4 days to set up.

For the majority of Palestinians who—especially during the summer—run out of water to drink, bathe, cook, wash or even flush their toilets with, a grey water system offers a relatively simple and accessible option for maximizing what little of this precious resource they have. The treated greywater is used for flushing the toilets and can be used for irrigating plants on his roof. With a system like Nader’s, a normal household could almost double their monthly water supply.

So what’s the biggest perk of having a greywater system? For his family of 8, Nader says the best part of this system is the peace of mind he has knowing that he can go away for work and his family still has enough water to shower, cook and flush the toilets!

This post was written by Chelsea McDaniel a research intern in FoEME’s Bethlehem Office. 

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