a different side of Israel

Conserving Water National Priority

The recent attention given by the news media to our water problems in general, and to the warning by Israel’s national water authorities about the seriousness of the present situation, clearly points out and emergency situation in which the country’s three major water sources are fast approaching the point of being too low to be safe for public use. This crises recalls a poster I saw in awhile back that read: “ The Next War in the Middle East Will be Over Water”. Although the poster really had nothing to do with this subject (it was advertising surfing clothing and accessories), the reality of our water problems is one for everyone’s concern.

With all publicity dealing with the ever decreasing water levels, desalinization plants and the like, one of the real problems stems from the very wasteful water usage of both agriculture and industry in Israel, and especially among the general public. I am amazed at how many times I have seen water irrigation and sprinkler systems in full operation either during or after a major rain storm. The only “logic” from this phenomena is that the kibbutzim and moshavim have to use their water “allocations” from Mekorot within a certain time-frame – or lose them. Or, in the case of parks, apartment buildings, etc., the water system is operated by a time sequence, and programmed in advance to dispense the water without any connection to what is happening via Mother Nature.

The growing of crops, such as cotton, consume large quantities of water (even if it is non-potable), and at subsidized prices, is a luxury that will have to be altered drastically or even eliminated. On the subject of growing cotton, I think this country can continue progressing very nicely without one single dunam of cotton being grown! We can purchase all the cotton we need from other countries (incl. the USA and even Egypt).

Another water using phenomena that has increased dramatically in recent years are both private swimming pools and automatic car washes. While both use recycled water (swimming pools filter the same water over and over), they still use water that can be allocated to other uses. When I came to Israel over 25 years ago, I could count the number of car washes in Tel-Aviv on the fingers of one hand. Now, it’s like having to use a computer data-bank to keep track of them.

Finally, the main problem hits closer to home, i.e., all of us and how we use water. When the water conserving publicity started drawing attention, I decided to begin my own personal water conservation “project”, and during the past several months, I calculate that I have personally conserved at least 6 –8 liters of water per day by engaging in the following practices:

1. Heating and using water that would have been thrown away ( from mineral water bottles, etc.,) for kitchen uses, shaving, etc.

2. By not flushing the toilet each time (depending on the reason for usage).

3. By careful use of water during teeth brushing, shaving, washing before bed or in the morning (not shower usage).

4. By never taking a bath (in a tub), and by “soaping down” in the shower before turning the water back on.

5. By forgoing at least one shower per week – it’s not the end of the world to not shower once a day (some people do this twice a day!).

6. By going back to the practice of using buckets to wash that Mazda that the
software company has given you as a job perk.

Now, I realize most, if not all, of the above practices seem a bit Draconian, but, the day may come when we will all think of the “good old days” when the stuff coming out of our taps could actually be drunk without using some kind of expensive filtration device – if anything comes out at all!

While awaiting our government to institute measures to solve our water problem in the “long run”, we can certainly help our “short run” situation by using some or all of the measures as noted above.

After all, if I, one person, can save an average of 165 liters of water per month, think of how much 1,000,10,000, or even 100,000 people will save. And, our personal life-styles will only be slightly altered.

We can either do this on a voluntary basis now or a forced basis later on. The choice is ours.


  1. Good piece, and very timely. I live in Atlanta and our biggest lake, Lake Lanier (almost as large as Lake Kinneret) is in danger of drying up. Already, virtually all the boat docks have become “drydocks”. The Chatahoochee River, which runs right through Atlanta, is also not much more than a glorified stream.

    This global warming problem is also a big time problem in America too, and not just in a chronic water short region like Israel is located in.

    Looks like more efforts will have to made ot make use of our seas and oceans to get more fresh water by desalination. Already, strigent water conservation measures are in effect in Georgia and even in Florida.

  2. “Water water everywhere, and neer a drop to drink”.

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