On May 27-29, 2014, the Dead Sea played host to the second international conference of the “Protecting Groundwater” program. The program is led by Friends of the Earth Middle East together with the Malaga County Council, and funded by the European Union.
Officials from the Water and Environment Authorities as well as Mayors and other representatives from the 28 participating communities in Spain and the Middle East attended the conference.
Each participating community faces slightly different challenges, however, they all share common risks of contamination of their main source of clean water – groundwater. All participating communities, with the help of the “Protecting Groundwater” program, developed parallel implementation plans to reduce and prevent those environmental hazards which contaminate their groundwater. The implementation plans include: establishing proper wastewater treatment systems for domestic sewage and specific pre-treatments for industries effluents; prevention of illegal dump sites; reducing over usage of fertilizers and pesticides which infiltrate to the groundwater; rehabilitation of groundwater springs for preservation of their cultural and natural heritage and for ecotourism purposes.
The conference featured a keynote address by Prof. Lucien Chabason, Senior Advisor at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the president of the UN Environment Program Mediterranean Action Plan. The main session was devoted to the presentations of the ‘Hazards Reduction and Prevention Implementations Plans’;
The second day’s sessions were reserved for discussions and workshops amongst the mayors, NGOs, environmental officials, and water authorities in attendance. The sessions included workshops on groundwater regulations, financing, effluents treatment, sustainable agriculture, and safe reuse in treated waste water.
Films that discuss groundwater protection efforts from each of the participating countries were also be screened.
The conference was sponsored by the Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean program within the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI CBCMED).