Executive Summary 

The Coastal Aquifer Basin stretches along the eastern Mediterranean coast from the northern Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, via the Palestinian Gaza Strip into Israel. It consists of mostly consolidated alluvium increasing in thickness towards the sea. Groundwater originates from the recharge areas inland and generally flows towards the sea where it discharges.

Most of the abstraction in the basin originates from Israel (around 66% of total abstraction), while the Gaza Strip is responsible for 23% and Egypt has the lowest abstraction at about 11%. Both Egypt and Israel have invested in alternative water supply options for the coastal areas through inter-basin transfer and the use of non-conventional water resources. The Gaza Strip does not have access to alternative water resources and depends almost entirely on the Coastal Aquifer Basin for its water supply. However, as the aquifer in the Gaza Strip is severely threatened by over-abstraction and pollution, desalination is currently being explored as a major alternative source of water supply.

Pollution from untreated sewage, agricultural return flows and seawater intrusions coupled with continued over-abstraction, has led to increased salinization of the aquifer. As a result, water use has been greatly impaired, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

There are no formal or informal agreements for the optimization of use or protection of the aquifer. Political constraints currently make riparian cooperation over water resources in the Coastal Aquifer Basin unlikely, particularly between Israel and Palestine.

  • Agricultural fields near Tel Aviv, Israel, 2011. Source: Janie Easterman.
  • Sewage outflow on the Gaza coast, 2010. Source: Cara Flowers.
  • Raw sewage flowing to the sea at Deir al Belah, 2009. Source: Olly Lambert.
  • The Gaza coast, Palestine, 2009. Source: Stuart Reigeluth.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Egypt, Israel, Palestine
Alternative Names --
Renewability Medium to high (20 - >100 mm/yr)
Hydraulic Linkage with Surface Water Moderate
Rock Type Porous
Aquifer Type Mostly unconfined
Extent 18,370 km2
Age Cenozoic (Pleistocene-Holocene)
Lithology Clastic series of sandstone, dune sand, gravel and conglomerate
Thickness 60-140 m
Average Annual Abstraction Egypt: 70-80 MCM
Gaza: 150-180 MCM
Israel: 400-480 MCM
Storage --
Water Quality Fresh to brackish
Water Use Domestic and agricultural
Agreements Israel-Palestine (PLO)
1993 - Oslo I
1995 - Oslo II
Sustainability Over-abstraction resulting in a lowering of the water table and seawater intrusion; pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff