Israel solves water shortage with desalination — but ignores environmental costs

f13-iconMcClatchy reports: Israel has gone through one of the driest winters in its history, but despite the lean rainy season, the government has suspended a longstanding campaign to conserve water.

The familiar public messages during recent years of drought, often showing images of parched earth, have disappeared from television despite weeks of balmy weather with record low rainfalls in some areas.

The level of the Sea of Galilee, the country’s natural water reservoir, is no longer closely tracked in news reports or the subject of anxious national discussion.

The reason: Israel has in recent years achieved a quiet water revolution through desalination.

With four plants currently in operation, all built since 2005, and a fifth slated to go into service this year, Israel is meeting much of its water needs by purifying seawater from the Mediterranean. Some 80 percent of domestic water use in Israeli cities comes from desalinated water, according to Israeli officials.

“There’s no water problem because of the desalination,” said Hila Gil, director of the desalination division in the Israel Water Authority. “The problem is no longer on the agenda.”

The struggle over scarce water resources has fueled conflict between Israel and its neighbors, but the country is now finding itself increasingly self-sufficient after years of dependency on rainfall and subterranean aquifers. [Continue reading…]

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One thought on “Israel solves water shortage with desalination — but ignores environmental costs

  1. pabelmont

    I have seen pictures (somewhere, forget where) of a huge field of mirrors focusing sunlight on a solar-electric generation station which is said to be useful for desalination. Israel has an enormous desert (or so I imagine) which would be an excellent place to put a large array of soalr-collection gadgets. Why was this not done (in favor of fossil-fuelled desalination)?

    And why doesn’t California do it? In other words, what gets in the way of doing things right? Is it some intrusive ill-effect of capitalism? (Israel’s desalination is here described as a private rather than a public effort.)

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