European Commission Fifth RTD Framework Programme

A Future for The Dead Sea: Options for a More Sustainable Water Management

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Water Uses

Water Uses

Water Supply and Use in the Dead Sea Basin

          This section provides a detailed accounting of water uses in the study area.  Water uses were classified into four categories; namely domestic water use, agricultural water use, industrial water use and water use in tourism.


Domestic Water

          Domestic water is either supplied by authorities (formal source) or collected from rooftops after rainfall events (informal source).  In most cases, formal water supply is abstracted from wells.  However, in Jericho the domestic water is supplied from Ein-Sultan Spring discharge which was recently piped.  Several authorities supply water to the Palestinian communities.  These are the West Bank Water Department, the Palestinian water authority, Jericho Municipality and Hebron Municipality.  In Israel, Mekorot company supplies water to the communities and in Jordan, the Jordanian water authorities supply water to the populations for domestic use.  The table below shows the volume of water supplied to the communities of the study area.  It should be noted that a certain percentage of water is lost in the water networks supplying water from source to the different localities.  This percentage varies in the three sub-regions.  While water loss in Israel is reported to be less than 10%, water loss in the Palestinian areas exceeds 35%.



Table 1. Domestic Water Supply in the study area

  Population Formal Monetarized Water Supply (MCM) Informal Non-Monetarized Supply (MCM)
Palestinian Settlements 525,000 16.3 1.26
Israeli Settlements inside the West Bank 164,000 14.76 0
Israeli Settlements outside the West Bank 3,500 0.45 0
Jordanian Settlements 37,000 1.9 0



           All of the water supplied formally for domestic uses is high quality drinking water.  The quality of water from informal sources and used by the Palestinian population is variable.  Informal water is collected from rooftops after storm events and is stored in cisterns.  The location of the cisterns relevant to the location of wastewater cesspits have a high impact on the quality of water in cisterns.  Random tests of water quality in cisterns showed high fecal Coliforms levels.

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Industrial Water


           Large industries are located on the shorelines of the evaporation ponds south of the Dead Sea.  These industries mainly use collected stormwater, brackish groundwater, and fresh groundwater.  In addition, approximately  350-400 MCM of water pumped from the Northern Basin to the salting lakes evaporate.  The Israeli industries consume a total of 286 MCM of water of which 10.3 MCM is freshwater, 25 MCM is brackish and 250 MCM of Sea water.  Total industrial water consumption in the study area was approximately 450 MCM in 2003 (Table 2).


Table 2.  Industrial water use in the Dead Sea Basin.

  Total Water Use (MCM) Fresh Water Wells


Brackish Wells 


Storm water reservoir


Dead Sea Water


Palestinian Industries 1.2 1.2 0.0 0.0 0
Israeli Industries Inside the West Bank 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0 0
Israeli Industries outside the West Bank 285.9 10.3 25.5 0.1 250
Jordanian Industries 162.4 3.0 0.0 9.4 150
Total Industrial Water Use 449.8 14.8 25.5 9.5 400



Water in Tourism


           Water use in Tourism in the Israeli part of the study area ranged between 1.8-2.2 MCM/yr for the period between 2000-2003.  This is largely fresh water supplied by the Israeli company Mekorot to 28 hotels or resorts located along the coastal area of the Dead sea and concentrated in and around Ein-Bokek where the tourism luxury hotels are located.  Jordanian tourism industry in the Dead Sea basin used 1 MCM of fresh water in 2003 but this figures is expected to increase exponentially to reach to 2.5 and 6 MCM by 2006 and 2010, respectively.  Palestinian tourism industry suffered dearly after 2000 and fresh water consumption by the tourism industry dropped from 0.3 MCM in year 1999 to 0.1 MCM in year 2003.  The total water use by tourism in the study area ranges between 2.9-3.5 MCM/yr.

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Agricultural Water


           Several crop types were observed in the study area.  Fruit trees are the dominant agricultural crop.  The area cultivated with fruit trees exceeds that cultivated by vegetables.  Water requirements for the different fruit trees and for vegetables were calculated using the CROPWAT programme.  Data used in the calculation included wind speed, solar incident radiation, precipitation and temperature profiles of the study area.  However, it was observed in the study area that actual water use in Agriculture exceeds that volume of water required to produce the crops.  This is mainly due to two reasons; namely the tendency to over irrigate the crops and to water leakage from networks and/or evaporation from open channels.  The volume of agricultural water lost in the region was estimated at approximately 30% in the Jordanian and Palestinian sides of the study area and 10% in the Israeli part of the study area. Table 3 shows the volume of water required and used in agriculture in the study area.


Table 3.  Agricultural water requirements and water used. 

Type of Agriculture Volume of Water Required (Thousand CM) Volume of Water Used (Thousand CM)
Banana 12,261 15,939
Citrus 252 328
Fruit Trees, Unclassified 17,645 22,938
Palm 7,564 9,833
Vegetables 1,220 1,586
Vineyards 5,611 7,295
Wheat, Barley, etc 178 231
Subtotal Jordan 44,732 58,152
Banana 114 132
Fruit Trees, Unclassified 156 180
Palm 1,124 1,292
Vegetables 6 7
Vineyards 49 56
Subtotal Israel 1,449 1,666
Banana 442 509
Citrus 1 2
Fruit Trees, Unclassified 716 824
Palm 1,650 1,898
Vegetables 870 1,000
Vineyards 574 661
Wheat, Barley, etc 8 9
Subtotal Israeli Ag inside WB 4,263 4,902
Banana 2,921 3,798
Citrus 61 79
Fruit Trees, Unclassified 4,515 5,869
Palm 1,595 2,073
Vegetables 510 662
Vineyards 1,435 1,865
Wheat, Barley, etc 54 71
Subtotal Palestinian 11,090 14,417
Total Area of Study 61,533 79,136

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Water Losses and actual domestic water use


           As indicated above, a significant volume of water is lost in the agricultural sector due to network losses, evaporation from open channels and irrigation ponds and from over-irrigation.  The same occurs in the domestic, industrial and tourism water supply.


           In Palestine, the total volume of water supply from formal sources to urban localities and industrial zones summed up to 17.7 MCM/yr in year 2002.  The total volume of water allocated from the different sources (Imported, local wells and local springs)  for domestic, tourism and industrial uses was approximately 25.2 MCM in the year 2002.  The volume of water lost in the water network connecting the production source with the supply meters was accordingly 7.5 MCM in the year 2002, representing approximately 30% of total water allocation.  Further water losses take place in the network inside the locality.  The estimated water loss within the locality water network range considerably from one locality to another and can reach up to 25%.  However, not all water losses in the networks are physical losses but also are from illegal non-monetarized connections.  Accordingly, actual domestic water use by the Palestinian communities in the study area ranged between 14 - 16.5 MCM in the year 2002.  Per capita domestic water use ranged therefore between 73 l/c/d and 86 l/c/d.


            No detailed information is available to characterize water losses in the Jordanian part of study area.  However, it is believed that water losses in Jordan are similar to those observed in Palestine.  Accordingly, total water allocation for domestic use is estimated at 2.7 MCM/yr and the actual water use is estimated to range between 1.52-1.9 MCM/yr.  The per capita water use was estimated to range between 112.5-140.5 l/c/d.


           Water losses in Israel according to the Israeli Water Commissioner report (2001) was estimated at 10%.  Accordingly, the total water allocation for domestic use in the Israeli part of the study area is estimated at 0.5 MCM/yr and the actual water use is estimated at 0.45 MCM/yr.  The per capita domestic water use was 352 l/c/d.


           Water losses in Israeli settlements located in the Palestinian part of the study area are estimated to range between 10-15%.  Accordingly, the total water allocation to Israeli settlements from all sources was estimated to range between 16.4-17.4 MCM/yr.  The actual domestic water use was estimated at 14.76 MCM in year 2002 and the per capita water use was estimated at 250 l/c/d.

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