Main content area

Endocrine disrupting compounds in streams in Israel and the Palestinian West Bank: Implications for transboundary basin management

Dotan, Pniela, Yeshayahu, Maayan, Odeh, Wa'd, Gordon- Kirsch, Nina, Groisman, Ludmila, Al-Khateeb, Nader, Abed Rabbo, Alfred, Tal, Alon, Arnon, Shai
Journal of environmental management 2017 v.204 pp. 355-364
basins, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, groundwater, pollutants, public health, risk, rural areas, sediments, socioeconomics, streams, surface water, wastewater, wastewater treatment, water pollution, water quality, Israel, West Bank
Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) frequently enter surface waters via discharges from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), as well as from industrial and agricultural activities, creating environmental and health concerns. In this study, selected EDCs were measured in water and sediments along two transboundary streams flowing from the Palestinian Authority (PA) into Israel (the Zomar-Alexander and Hebron-Beer Sheva Streams). We assessed how the complicated conflict situation between Israel and the PA and the absence of a coordinated strategy and joint stream management commission influence effective EDC control. Both streams receive raw Palestinian wastewater in their headwaters, which flows through rural areas and is treated via sediment settling facilities after crossing the 1949 Armistice Agreement Line. Four sampling campaigns were conducted over two years, with concentrations of selected EDCs measured in both the water and the sediments. Results show asymmetrical pollution profiles due to socio-economic differences and contrasting treatment capacities. No in-stream attenuation was observed along the stream and in the sediments within the Palestinian region. After sediment settling in treatment facilities at the Israeli border, however, significant reductions in the EDC concentrations were measured both in the sediments and in the water. Differences in sedimentation technologies had a substantial effect on EDC removal at the treatment location, positively affecting the streams' ability to further remove EDCs downstream. The prevailing approach to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian transboundary wastewater contamination reveals a narrow perspective among water managers who on occasion only take local interests into consideration, with interventions focused solely on improving stream water quality in isolated segments. Application of the “proximity principle” through the establishment of WWTPs at contamination sources constitutes a preferable strategy for reducing contamination by EDCs and other pollutants to ensure minimization of public health risks due to the pollution of streams and underlying potable groundwater.