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Friday, May 04, 2007

Israel's coming water crisis

Many of you who live abroad don't realize to what extent Israel's water supply is tied up with Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and Gaza. This article was sitting in my inbox (courtesy of its author) when I came home today. It's important because not only does it set out the extent of our shortage in clear, unemotional terms, it also makes clear that desalination is not the answer:
The Israeli public should be aware that today whoever controls the areas of Samaria, Judea (which overlie vital ground water supplies) and the Golan (which is a crucial part of the Sea of Galilee's drainage basin,) also controls of the flow of water to the taps in the nation's homes and industries.

In order to contend with Israel's hydrological deficit, estimated at 300-500 million cubic meters per annum, the government has decided, a decade later than it should have, to embark on an ambitious desalination initiative. The objective of this enterprise is to free the country from the fickle whims of the weather in an arid area of the world located on the fringes of a desert, by the large scale artificial generation of water.

The first such plant, sited near Ashkelon, recently began operating, more than five years after the government approved its construction. The plant, which is the biggest and one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world, produces 100 million cubic meters annually – i.e. between one fifth and one third of the current hydrological deficit.

This means that even without yielding a single liter of water to any Arab entity, Israel still requires the construction of an additional three to five similar plants – the biggest in the world – to achieve "sustainable management" of the existing hydro-resources i.e. to prevent their over-exploitation and accelerated salting and pollution due to excess extraction.

This is clearly not the appropriate framework for a detailed professional analysis of Israeli hydrology, so it will suffice to draw attention to two hydrological facts that are not in contention: (a) Whatever the de jure provisions of any future peace treaty may be, evacuation (even a partial one) of Judea, Samaria and the Golan, will transfer the de facto control over about one billion(!) cubic meters of water to Arab hands; (b) Whoever controls these areas can create – whether through purposeful malice or unintended incompetence - a situation whereby these quantities of water will be denied to the Israeli consumer.
Read the whole thing.


At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Carl,

Sadly this article is all too accurate. Energy and resources are at a premium now and we will enter a new era where the struggle for our survival will be more intense than ever before.

The current wars for oil will soon be supplanted by wars for water.

Shabbat Shalom



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