Morganti Group, ABB Susaand the Perini Corporationhave been prequalified to bid for the project, which will collect drinking water from a number of sources and distribute it along the length and breadth of the Gaza strip. The contract involves the design and construction of 85 kilometres of pipeline, with diameters ranging from 250-1,000 millimetres, connectors, 12 storage reservoirs and 10 pumping stations.

Water will be provided from several sources. The Israeli water company Mekorot, which already supplies the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) with a total of 5 million cubic metres a year (cm/y), will supply a further 5 million cm/y through a third connection to the main Gaza pipeline. Further quantities will come from groundwater wells around Gaza.

Supplies will also be pumped into the carrier from the proposed Gaza reverse osmosis desalination plant, another USAID project in the strip. The agency expects to receive prequalification proposals for the project by the end of March and will then shortlist up to five companies for the plant. USAID plans to award the contract for the facility, which will have an ultimate capacity of 150,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), by early 2004.

The plant is scheduled to come on stream with an initial capacity of 50,000-60,000 cm/d in 2006, and will ramp up to full production capacity by 2020, in line with population growth. Power for the proposed plant will be provided from the new 140-MW independent power plant via the Gaza West grid substation located 11 kilometres from the desalination plant site (MEED 14:6:02).

USAID is also involved in two projects to boost water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank. The first, the Bani Naim project, involves the laying of 31 kilometres of pipeline and the construction of two booster stations to transfer water into the existing Halhoul reservoir and the proposed Yatta reservoir, to provide an additional 1,000 cubic metres an hour to the southern West Bank. The two-year pipeline contract is scheduled to be awarded in September. During the second year of the project, USAID plans to award further contracts for equipping the pumping facilities on five wells and building the booster stations.

USAID also proposes to finance the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in the southeast of Hebron municipality. The 15,000-cm/d plant includes a pre-treatment facility at Bani Naim and an 11-kilometre conveyance system between the town and Hebron. The contract will also include the provision of operation and maintenance services on the plant for a two-year period. Start-up at the plant is expected for the beginning of 2005.