Over 50% of Israeli water used daily is derived from the sea.
Blue State Blues: Israel Solves the Water Puzzle
The news from Israel is sensational this week: more Palestinians stabbing Israelis, the release of spy Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison, and so one. In the day-to-day of news events, it’s easy to overlook long-term developments that are sometimes even more dramatic. One of those is Israel’s steady and successful struggle to solve the water puzzle.
Water is scarce in the region, and Israel suffers periodic droughts that make it very difficult to meet the daily needs of eight million people and a growing economy.
I have on my desk a glossy newsletter from the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the charity that has raised money to buy land and plant trees since well before Israel declared independence in 1948. Typically, I skim through or ignore these bulky publications. But this one is different. It is a celebration of Israel’s success in overcoming chronic water scarcity through desalination, recycling, conservation, infrastructure, and innovation. The opening letter from JNF chairman Ronald S. Lauder is worth quoting at length:
Nearly two decades ago, I surveyed the Kinneret–the Sea of Galilee–and I was in shock: the only freshwater reservoir in the land of Israel was running dry. I vowed that Israel’s drought and water issue would be solved. We at JNF were going to make a difference…
Prior to 1995 there were only three reservoirs in Israel. Working with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), JNF built 200 reservoirs between 1996 and 2005. These reservoirs were desperately needed to store recycled water and rainwater, which would then be utilized by Israeli farmers to bring food to the markets during the country’s dry season.
We started to recycle water for reuse. Everybody told us desalinization was the only solution; however, we knew that desalinization alone was not only too costly, but also years away from coming to fruition. We needed a stopgap solution. We built recycling plants and reservoirs, and began seeing a difference every day…