Palestine engineer uses innovative approach to purify water

The international community marks 28 July as World Nature Conservation Day to acknowledge that a healthy environment is the foundation for a stable and healthy society, Anadolu News Agency reports.

According to the American forester and politician, Gifford Pinchot, "conservation means the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of men."

Inspired by this philosophy, Palestinian engineer, Salah Al-Saadi, from the Gaza Strip devised a chemical-free, environmentally-friendly method of purifying groundwater of nitrates and salts by using natural elements such as plant seeds.

More than two years have passed involving research, resulting in the creation of a method of filtration called the "Blue filter," which involves treating groundwater that is polluted with high concentrations of nitrates in the Gaza Strip.

"The concentration of nitrates in the water is very high, and the main challenge in purifying the water is the high cost involved. So I began during my Master's studies to conduct my own research to find a cheap, safe and environmentally friendly approach," Al-Saadi told Anadolu Agency.

According to Al-Saadi, his project aims to maximise the ability to be able to provide families and farmers with usable water, particularly since more than 90 per cent of the families in Gaza receive polluted water. The research illustrates that the level of nitrates in the water in the Gaza Strip is 10 times higher than the international average which was determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"I incorporate my knowledge as an engineer in industrial chemistry, water and the environment with entrepreneurship to find a solution for the water problems in Gaza, and now I use several types of plant seeds as filters," he said.

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Al-Saadi said he used chia seeds, which resulted in removing 94 per cent of the nitrates in the sample of water he used. He said most of the groundwater in Gaza is polluted with saltwater from the sea and nitrates and just 4 per cent of the total amount is usable for drinking.

"All of these challenges forced me to search for a scheme that helps reduce the amount of water lost during the treatment process and protects the environment from any unwanted side effects. On the other hand, we live in a crisis zone where everything is limited, so the choice was to depend on nature itself," he added.

Al-Saadi, who is the head of the engineering industries department in the Palestinian Economy Ministry, highlighted that he is working to encourage this methodology of thinking about solutions to the environmental problems in Gaza among the students training with him.

"The project will achieve continuous sustainability because there is no loss in the amount of purified water, as it works to exploit all components of the project to improve productivity and reduce environmental damage. The "Blue filter" is a Palestinian vision for youth employment, water and agricultural sector development, and creativity in Palestinian output," he told Anadolu Agency.

Al-Saadi accomplished the project with dozens of farmers in the Gaza Strip and he is still working to give the chance of expanding and make his method viable for farmers and families.

He emphasised that the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip in 2007 has made life harder and led to a lack of equipment for water management and purification.

"It's hard work in complicated conditions, but we work daily to improve the quality of the work. We finished the first stage of building a smart phone application for the initiative to make contact with users easier and more effective," he said.