With an American USAID-MERC grant of $659,410 Israelis and Palestinians are coming together to address clean water issues in the West Bank area of Nablus over a five-year period.

Ben Gurion University (BGU) researcher Dr. Moshe Herzberg and Prof. Mohammed Saleem Ali-Shtayeh of the Biodiversity & Environmental Research Center in Nablus, have received the grant to increase the clean water supply around Israel and the Middle East.

The team also includes Dr. Osnat Gillor (BGU) and Dr. Helen Thanh Nguyen, a grant advisor and assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The grant will address biofouling of Reverse Osmosis (RO) membranes during reclamation of secondary wastewater. Reverse Osmosis membrane filtration is normally used for desalination and reclamation of secondary effluents removing organics and undesired salts from water.

The study, ‘Reclamation of Secondary Effluents with Reverse Osmosis Membranes (RO): Fouling Mechanisms and Control’ will also suggest novel ways to mitigate biofouling and clean biofouled membranes.

These techniques can be applied to increase access to clean water supply in the Middle East, especially in the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Purified secondary wastewater is an immediate resource for irrigation and after RO filtration can be used indirectly for drinking.