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A Celebration of Water Technology

October 10, 2012
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This Summer, Tel Aviv celebrated a “water war” in which participants were invited to come to the fountain area in front of city hall and let out their frustrations or pent-up emotions by being drenched from head to toe by a variety of water guns, buckets, and almost any other type of water container. The water in the fountain is, according to the municipality, not fit for drinking. This fact was meant to assuage the critics who say that the water extravaganza was a waste of precious water resources.

There is still certainly a shortage of fresh water in Israel, but many commentators will tell you that as far as Israel is concerned, there is now no longer a “water problem.” Israel has become the leading country in the world in the development of desalinating water. By 2013, over 80% of Israel’s domestic water will be supplied by desalination.

Presently, three large desalination plants operate in the cities of Ashkelon, Palmachim, and Hadera. Next year, two more huge plants at Ashdod and Soreq will come on line, and by 2015, a staggering 500 million cubic meters [132 trillion US gallons] of desalinated water will serve most of the country.

Despite being an arid area of the world, Israel is self-sufficient in food and even manages to export [US] $1.5 billion of agricultural products annually. Its cows also produce one of the highest milk yields in the world. Israel, which leads the world in water recycling, manages to treat about 75% of its wastewater. The recycled water is then mostly used for agriculture. As a comparison, Spain, which is the world’s second largest water-recycling nation, uses only about 12% of its water in this way.

Water technology has become a major Israeli specialty, with the cost of production becoming lower all the time. Today, a cubic meter of desalinated water in Israel costs just over [US] 50 cents to produce. Israel is now a world leader in transforming salt water into drinking water with environmentally friendly processes and filtration systems.

So, in a way, the Tel Aviv “water war” is, in fact, a celebration of water management, representing the success of Israeli ingenuity and technology. This technology is available for all countries with a shortage of water to use and develop. The success in desalinating water and also recycling water has enabled Israel to push the desert back.

Today, more and more desert regions [in Israel] are turning green and producing valuable crops. No other country in the world can claim such a success. Another by-product of desalination is the future possibility of returning the underground aquifers to their full capacity and also returning water to the depleted Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.

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