This year’s winter rains were nice, but, alas we are still in a severe drought. The Sea of Galilee, a main source of water in the north, has reached record low water levels and what’s even worse, while the Jordan River, which flows out of the southern end of the Mediterranean, could soon slow to a trickle in some places.
Well a massive desalination facility on the Mediterranean seashore, with a network of pipes snaking their way beneath the beach and reaching out far into oceanic depths, should help solve the problem.
The plant is among the largest in the world. It miraculously changes sea water into drinking water. Standing next to the city of Hadera in the north, the third in a splendid row of five facilities which dot the coastline, with the design in mind to provide two-thirds of the Israel’s drinking water and reroute the National Water Carrier. The National Water Carrier is a water transport system which has sustained Israel for 50 years.
IDE Technologies is the company responsible for the plant.
Vice president, Teddy Golan, told us this:
“Up until now, it was a government monopoly regulating all water transportationâ€¦Then we found it was cheaper to desalinate water on the shore than transfer it from the (Sea of Galilee) in the north.”
President of the Jewish Country, Shimon Peres inaugurated the facility in a very special ceremony which included a series of interconnected round and rectangular concrete buildings. The thing has been in operation since January.
Water sources have been the source of water conflict for Israelis, Palestinians and other Arab states for a long time now. Well the new desalination plan seeks to solve the problem. Coastal construction roar is not without controversy, though. Enviros are concerned about the impact on ocean life.
You see, the $425 million plant (of the $500 million which Israel uses to connect the string of coastal plants to the nation’s water system) uses reverse osmosis technology, a process which does not involve heating the sea water as the larger plants do. The plant produces 33 billion gallons of fresh water each year.
Well, Rivi Federman, the Mediterranean coast coordinator for environmental group Zalul tells us:
“We are in favor of desalination but not so sure about building so many plants. It should be just one part of a solution, along with conservation.”
In February of this year, the Palestinian Water Authority released a statement saying that they would not explore “alternative water sources” like desalination, before they were given back rights to the Jordan River and aquifers which they claim belong to them, saying they were,
“Unwilling to purchase water at such a high cost … knowing that this water in fact partially belongs to the Palestinians but is inaccessible.”
IDE Technology CEO Avshalom Felber put it to us in protest:
“The more desalination we do, the less we’ll need to exhaust these resources and allow them to get back to their natural state…This has a political issue that is out of our hands, but we are doing our best to promote this solution.”