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KIDRON VALLEY/ WADI NAR INTERNATIONAL MASTER PLAN PROJECT
Integrated Water Resource Management Under Conditions of Conflict: Moving from Co-existence, via Cooperation to Partnership


CONCEPT NOTE
 February, 2010


Relevance of the Master Plan Project

The Kidron Valley/Wadi Nar runs from the city of Jerusalem through the Judean Desert to the Dead Sea.  For thousands of years, the valley supplied the local population with water, prompting the growth of several civilizations in this area.  Many of the Middle East’s most famous cultural and historic sites can be found here, including historic and religious sites, ancient tombs, underground watercourses, monasteries and beautiful desert landscapes.

But unchecked development and neglect, together with an increase in population, has had major health, environmental, and economic consequences. Today one of the great centres of civilization serves as a conduit for raw sewage and a depositary of solid waste. Water and drainage infrastructure is primitive at best. Historic sites are neglected; their cultural value depreciated by poor environmental practices and strife in the region. Endemic species are disappearing. Much of the fertile lands in the Valley are not being farmed and landowners have been forced to find other ways to make a living. The resulting pollution of the groundwater in the area endangers existing water sources.  The polluted surface water constitutes a health hazard to Dead Sea bathers and local residents.

For the past thirty years, Israelis and Palestinians have deliberated solutions for the rehabilitation and beautification of the Kidron/Wadi Nar area, including building and operating a joint sewage purification plant. There have been a number of "historic meetings" such as the one between Teddy Kollek, the Mayor of Jerusalem and Elias Freig, the Mayor of Bethlehem in 1991. Contracts have been drafted and signatures appended but no solution has been reached. As decided in the Oslo Accords of 1995, Israel and the Palestinian Authority set up a Joint Water Committee to resolve water issues in a formal setting. Suggestions have been made to the JWC for a solution to the sewage problem in the Valley, but a decision has yet to be made. In addition, unlike Europe where borders are coming down, here borders are going up, making basin planning even more difficult.

Things are changing, however. During the last few years, scholars who have studied the entire basin have met with professionals and politicians from both sides of the border to discuss the problems of the Valley and to present the idea of a Master Plan.   A Master Plan steering committee has been set up, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Environment, the Peres Center for Peace, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, the Milken Institute, the City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Drainage Authority.

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