Global launch of BluElephants in Palestinian Territories creates infinite water flow07 September 2022
Three long-awaited BluElephants are officially launched in Halhul in the West Bank. These unique wastewater recycling units can transform wastewater into infinite water. The BluElephants were designed, developed and financed in a public-private partnership between Jotem Water Solutions, design engineer Rob van Opdorp, Waterschap Vechtstromen, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Ministry of Defence and World Waternet. The innovative, small-scale wastewater treatment units are piloted for two years at two locations in the Palestinian Territories. The pilot is part of the Dutch funded Blue Deal and WaterWorX programmes between the Palestinian Water Authority, the Municipalities of Halhul and Salfeet in collaboration with World Waternet.
Halhul, Palestinian Territories, 7 September 2022
Palestinian water crisis
Like many countries, the Palestinian Territories suffer from severe water shortages due to growing water demands combined with extreme weather events due to climate change. Rivers are running dry and groundwater levels are unprecedentedly low. On top of that, the political situation remains tense and transboundary water sharing is part of the conflict. Saving, recovering and reusing water is crucial in order to safeguard water supplies today and in the future. Infinite Water!
In most municipalities of the Palestinian Territories, there is no sewerage nor wastewater treatment in place. Domestic wastewater is collected in soak pits or septic tanks or discharged as surface run-off, and seeps into ground, polluting the groundwater, agricultural land, biodiversity and the environment. Untreated wastewater is also harmful for human health
The Palestinian Water Authority () focusses on managing water resources and wastewater treatment to prevent any more contamination of scarcely available water sources. Purifying and retaining wastewater for recycling are vital to prevent human and environmental health risks. Additional benefits from recycling wastewater with a BluElephant include cost savings for trucking, no large network investments and no purchasing of water is needed. It is an instant plug-and-play solution, yet flexible and mobile, when water matters. Better still, BlueElephants’ effluent quality is way superior compared to conventional MWTP’s discharge as it contains no pathogens, microplastics or xenobiotics such as medication residue.
Blue Deal & WaterWorX programme
In 2019, the Dutch water authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management initiated the Blue Deal program (), with the ambition to provide 20 million people access to safe, sufficient and clean water by 2030. WaterWorX () was kicked-off in 2017, which is a program by Dutch water companies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the aim to provide 10 million people with access to clean drinking water. World Waternet - affiliated to the only water cycle company in the Netherlands-, selected the Palestinian Territories as one of the areas for both programs, and focuses on water quality and water supply. These water operator partnerships, focus on peer-to-peer support and training with the Palestinian Water Authority and World Waternet as lead partner on behalf of the Dutch Water Authorities and drinking water companies.
Awareness-raising campaign in the West Bank by informative posters in public buildings (left) and three BluElephants fit in a shipment container, which facilitates flexible and mobile use (right).
The BluElephant journey
World Waternet joined forces to implement a wastewater treatment solutions for the Palestinian context. A private-public partnership (PPP) was established to answer the demand for an innovative and tailor-made solution. The ‘BluElephant’ was born. Blue as opposed to white elephants -large infrastructures- that are out of proportion, take huge investments, long planning, huge power draw, do not function in practice. The round-shaped unit, with a diameter of 2 meters, contains several treatment components. Activated sludge and traditional membrane filtration form the basis, which removes all bacteria and pathogenic contamination, including COVID-19 particles. “The effluent is clean enough for high-end irrigation purposes, but can even be made suitable for drinking water, if a complementary treatment step is added”, says Frank Tibben (World Waternet), project manager of the Blue Deal partnership in the Palestinian Territories.
Final stage of the journey: overland transportation of the BluElephants to their pilot locations in the municipalities of Salfeet and Halhul
The BluElephant can treat six cubic metres of water per day, which equals the production of wastewater from 150-200 people The unit can be transported easily for use as decentralized wastewater unit, instead of, next to, or combined with large wastewater infrastructure.
After a long journey from the Netherlands to the Palestinian Territories, the three BluElephant units have arrived at the Palestinian locations where there is an urgent need for wastewater treatment: the President Mahmoud Abbas Governmental Hospital in the city of Halhul (two BluElephants) and one at the Red Cresent clinic, office building and apartments in the city of Salfeet.
Launch in Salfeet on 6 September, attended by Janette Worm (Regional Manager), Frank Tibben (Project Manager), Loay Alatrash (Project Coordinator) and Yousef Alqam (Mechanical Engineer Salfeet Municipality)
Yesterday, the arrival of the BluElephant in Salfeet was celebrated. Today, the official inauguration of the BluElephants was attended by Dr. Fadi Danna, Manager of the President Mohamoud Abbas Governmental Hospital (North Hebron), Mr. Jihad Abu Assaba, Mayor of Halhul Municipality, Mr. Issa Atallah, Managing Director of Joint Service Council for Watter and Wastewater and World Waternet in Halhul.
The BluElephants are welcomed with open arms by the hospital: "I am so proud to have the BluElephants at the hospital ground and to show the public the need for treating wastewater, to ensure a good environment, public health and more water avaliability. The BluElephant is truly a blessing since Halhul Municipality does not have any collection or treatment system", Dr. Fadi Danna explains. Also the local community is sees the need for reuse of the scarce water: "I am thankful to have a solution for our wastewater problem and irrigation shortages. Always we use drinking water for irrigation which results in a shortage of drinking water for households" says Mr. Jihad Abu Assaba.
Loay Alatrash (local Project Manager) demonstrating the untreated wastewater versus the treated water by the BluElephant units (left) and the official inauguration of the BluElephants in Halhul on 7 September (right)
In the coming years, the Dutch-Palestinian Water Operators' Partnership will closely test and review the functioning and applicability of the units in Palestinian Territories and elsewhere around world. The local teams in Salfeet and Halhul on the West Bank welcome you to see the first ever global BluElephants to create infinite water.