The United Nations says the underground water aquifer that sustains some 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is "in danger of collapse" following years of overuse and contamination from armed conflict.
U.N. Environment Program researchers said overuse, salt water intrusion, sewage and agricultural runoff as well as hazardous medical waste in Gaza landfills is contributing to the situation. They said pollution levels in the water are now so bad that Gaza infants are now at risk for nitrate poisoning.
A report published Monday said that residents need an alternate water supply to give the aquifer a chance to rest. Researchers said unless the trend is reversed now, the damage could take centuries to reverse.
Scientists estimated restoration efforts could take 20 years and cost some $1.5 billion.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.