How Israel used innovation to beat its water crisis

Good News Notes:

How did Israel, a country that is more than half desert, frequently hit with drought, and historically cursed by chronic water shortages, become a nation that now produces 20 percent more water than it needs?

Water demand from Israel’s rapidly growing population outpaced the supply and natural replenishment of potable water so much that by 2015, the gap between demand and available natural water supplies reached 1 billion cubic meters (BCM).

Recovering from such a scenario seems highly unlikely, yet Israel managed it by pioneering an unprecedented wealth of technological innovation and infrastructure to prevent the country from drying up.

Nationwide turnaround stories like this are in short supply these days given the momentum of global warming and the world’s unwillingness to scale the solutions needed to thwart its irreversible effects in time.

Some 4 billion people –– two-thirds of the global population — now experience extreme water scarcity for at least one month out of each year due to the climate crisis.

But thanks to its national prioritization and seven decades of relentless determination, Israel has become a lifeline and source of hope for other water-deprived countries.

Israeli organizations like MASHAVKKL-JNFEcoPeace Middle East and the Arava Institute actively disseminate Israel’s expertise, technologies and policy strategies with neighboring and distant communities suffering from endemic water crises.

Breaking ground 

Israel’s leadership in sustainable water management began with finding solutions to the country’s first and foremost problem: the uneven distribution of freshwater throughout the country –– an issue that Zionist thinker Theodor Herzl recognized in his 1902 book Altneuland with a “fantasy plan” to transport water great distances.

That fantasy began morphing into reality soon after Israel declared its independence in 1948 as waves of new immigrants lacked sufficient water for drinking and farming.

To supply the growing demand, Israel’s national water company Mekorot, began constructing the National Water Carrier.

This water transportation network was designed to pump water from the northern Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and transfer water from existing regional water projects to central and southern Israel.

But upon its completion in 1964, 80% of the water transported by this system was allocated for agriculture. Clearly, the National Water Carrier alone could not satisfy both agriculture and household needs.

Luckily, a solution was already in development thanks to the innovative genius of Simcha Blass and his son Yeshayahu, who began developing a drip irrigationtechnology in 1959. Their revolutionary method slowly applies water directly to the roots of crops through a network of tubes, valves and drippers….”

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