From Mountain to Maleh: Water as an Agent of Negotiation in the Kidron Valley/Wadi an-Nar
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In a site with significantly fractured political, social, and environmental governance, it comes as no surprise that the West Bank’s water network is fraught with issues. Over-pumping of groundwater, inadequate sewage treatment, and contamination of surface and groundwater are by-products of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The West Bank’s Mountain Aquifer system generates more than a third of Israel’s yearly water intake (600-700 million cubic metres) but is being heavily pumped, supplying significantly more water to Israelis than Palestinians. A recharge area of 4700 square kilometres allows polluted wastewater from over two million Israeli and Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Jerusalem area to enter groundwater. Over time, levels of nitrate and micro-biological contaminants from inadequate sewage treatment, dumping, and agricultural runoff have increased, compromising future drinking water quality from springs and wells. One valley in particular, Nahal Kidron/Wadi an-Nar, receives a significant amount of pollution. It is one of the only cross-border streams between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank to not have an environmental remediation plan in place. Framed within the parameters of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, research on the impact of unmitigated surface and groundwater pollution, as well as social inequity between communities in the Kidron/Wadi an-Nar, has inspired this thesis‘s design of architecture and landscape treatment stewarding environmental and social agency. The thesis first examines the existing context of the water network and political boundaries of the Kidron/Wadi an-Nar. Cultural history and urban theory inform the analysis of the site, further explaining how water and land are spatially negotiated and governed in a state of conflict. Finally, this thesis proposes architecture and landscape interventions at three locations along the Kidron/Wadi an-Nar. These installations operate at varying scales, from a small community park to large landscape installations, in order to serve as interfaces for independent water sourcing, distribution, and treatment outside of the existing de facto West Bank water infrastructure network. These installations do not propose a solution, however desperately needed, to the long-held conflict in the region, but instead set up a series of architecture and landscape interventions which shape how the sites would be managed in the future. This thesis draws methodological inspiration from existing EcoPeace Ecoparks; design inspiration from the Arava Institute’s sewage disposal units for rural Palestinian towns, as well as from preventative planting; and implementation tactics from the existing Kidron Action Plan steering committee and the Arava Institute's Centre for Transboundary Water Management. These projects harness respective communities's agency over their broader watershed.
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Rachel Cohen-Murison (2017). From Mountain to Maleh: Water as an Agent of Negotiation in the Kidron Valley/Wadi an-Nar. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11858