Gaza's coastal water too contaminated to swim in

June 11, 2014
Sarah Benton

gaza sewage warning
Several signs along the coastline in Gaza City warn residents against swimming in the sewage-polluted waters. *Photo by Wissam Nassar/Al Jazeera

Half of Gaza beaches unfit for swimming due to contamination

By Ma’an news
June 11, 2014

GAZA CITY — Half of the beaches in Gaza have dangerous levels of contamination and are unfit for swimming, the Palestinian environmental authority said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health, together with the environmental authority, takes samples along the coast every month to test levels of pollution and contamination.

Khalid Abu Ghali, a spokesman for the environmental authority, told Ma’an that over 50 percent of the beaches are not fit for swimming and the agency has contacted concerned parties and lifeguards to identify areas with high levels of contamination.

Maps explaining which beaches are safe will be posted in public areas, he added.

The main cause of contamination is the low quality of sewage treatment stations which pump waste-water into the sea.

Three stations in Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah do not function properly because of continuous power cuts due to a lack of fuel, Abu Ghali said.

Waste water and sewage flow directly into the sea. Photo by Eve Bartlett.

Waste-water is often pumped directly into the sea without being treated due to the power cuts.

In 2012, the United Nations published a report warning that Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling.

An Israeli blockade on Gaza has been in place since 2006, limiting imports and exports and leading to major economic decline and a wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

* One of a series of pictures published by Al Jazeera, May 2014, from In Pictures: Gaza water crisis worsens
With 90 percent of the water unfit for human consumption, Palestinians struggle to meet their daily needs in Gaza…..

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