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Regional Water Data Banks

On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, the USGS has worked with Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian officials on the Water Data Banks Project since 1994. Scientific cooperation strengthened water security and improved water-resources management capabilities. 

A multilateral track to the Middle East Peace Process began with an organizational meeting in Moscow in 1992. The track that was developed included the creation of five working groups, one of which is the Multilateral Working Group on Water Resources (MWGWR). The U.S. serves as the Gavelholder of the MWGWR, which held its first meeting in March 1992. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been a participant and advisor in the MWGWR since inception. The MWGWR established four broad agenda items to address some of the critical water issues in the Middle East, which is defined, geographically, as including Israel, West Bank/Gaza, and Jordan. The USGS was asked to devise a viable approach to data sharing in the Middle East, which led to the conceptualization of the Regional Water Data Banks project (WDBP). A USGS-authored implementation plan for the WDBP was approved by the Multilateral Working Group on Water Resources in November 1994.

The WDBP was initiated and organized to improve the availability and applicability of water data and information. The project initially consisted of 39 specific recommendations for activities that were prepared, discussed, and agreed upon by the Core Parties. An important additional component of the plan was to establish a Palestinian water data bank while upgrading the existing Israeli and Jordanian data banks in order to assure that all three systems function effectively in a regional setting. The project goal is to enable the exchange of consistent, compatible, and reliable water data and information to support decision-making at both local and regional scales. The basic approach adopted for the project is that water data collection and dissemination programs will meet the specific needs of the Core Parties. Through this process and approach, regional sharing and exchange of relevant water information will be promoted and enhanced.

In January 1995, Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian (Core Parties) representatives met with representatives from the United States, European Union, Canada, and France (Donor Parties) to form a committee to manage, coordinate, and promote project implementation. The committee formed during the meeting is known as the Ex ecutive Ac tion eam (EXACT) and is composed of two representatives from each of the Core Parties and the Donor Parties. The United States, represented by the USGS, serves as the Gavelholder and Executive Secretary of EXACT. The project has been, and continues to be, extremely successful.

USGS Mission Tie In:
The U.S. Department of State requested the USGS to undertake this activity and has provided political guidance and funding throughout the project. The project supports U.S. foreign policy and has received positive recognition both within the United States and abroad for project accomplishments. The WDBP contributes directly to the USGS mission in all aspects, while confirming the bureau vision as a world leader in the natural sciences through scientific excellence and responsiveness to society's needs.