West Bank/Gaza Mission Infrastructure Needs Program II
2012-2013 || U.S. Agency for International Development
The stone and marble industry represents the largest economic sector in the West Bank, producing 40 million cubic meters annually and exporting to over 35 countries. Accounting for 4% of GDP and a source of more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs, the local economy relies heavily on this industry. Factories are spread throughout the West Bank and the largest concentration exists within the Hebron Industrial Zone.
Over 150 factories operate within the Hebron Industrial Zone and immediate surrounding areas, generating significant amounts of slurry waste. “Slurry” refers to the byproduct from the cutting process, in which blades are cooled to make sawing easier by a constant flow of water. This creates a mixture of stone fragments, stone dust, water, and metal particulates. Factories within the Industrial Zone generate approximately 375 cubic meters of slurry daily.
Lacking the infrastructure to properly handle the waste and enforceable regulation to do so, factory owners have freely disposed of this industrial waste through the municipal wastewater piping network, which bisects the Industrial Zone’s main road. Connecting to an open channel (“Wadi”) outside the Industrial Zone, the waste stream ultimately reaches an Israeli Wastewater Treatment Plant near Be’er Sheva. The infiltration of industrial waste into a municipal system has caused significant damage to its components, and created a situation, which has become untenable.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) convened a meeting with stakeholders to identify a solution to this problem. This consultative process with factory owners, local government, Palestinian Ministries, and Israeli officials led to the collective agreement on immediate actions required.
The solution was simple, but the execution was anything but – to transfer the liquid slurry waste to a designated disposal site and seal illegal connections accessed by the factory owners.
As a subcontractor to Black & Veatch, Deloitte is responsible for the overall coordination of the project including: scheduling and monitoring haulage activities, project management support, contract and resource management, budget control, stakeholder coordination, and assisting USAID with long-term solutions.
With many obstacles to overcome and the odds stacked against the project, the team was able to turn this crisis situation into an overwhelming accomplishment within the first 3 months of the 12-month contract. By establishing a high standard of professionalism, creating trust amongst the various stakeholders, and consistently demonstrating that this project could achieve the expected value, the results that have been achieved are staggering. Top Israeli representatives removed the threat of closure and have actually thanked the team for this project and congratulated it on its achievements and immediate impact. Recently, an article appeared in a major Israeli media outlet, highlighting the story and its impact.
Although the project has been effective thus far, it is far from finished. Researching long-term, locally-sustainable approaches, USAID is focusing on making significant efforts to minimizing the possibility of this problem arising again – for the benefit of the Palestinian economy, environment, and its people.
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