Visit our new website: worldnews.easybranches.com

5-year drought raises questions over Israel’s water strategy

  • Sat, 04 Aug 2018 23:07
Author: 
AP
ID: 
1533364170943144200
Sat, 2018-08-04 (All day)

KFAR YUVAL, Israel: For years, public service announcements warned Israelis to save water: Take shorter showers. Plant resilient gardens. Conserve. Then Israel invested heavily in desalination technology and professed to have solved the problem by tapping into the abundant waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The once ubiquitous conservation warnings vanished.
Now, a five-year drought is challenging that strategy, as farmers struggle and the country’s most important bodies of water shrink.
It’s a confounding situation for a country that places itself on the forefront of desalination technology in an arid region, where water is a key geostrategic issue that has its own clauses in peace agreements.
“Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity, it’s still a very, very grave situation,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of energy.
Some say Israel’s technological prowess may not be enough to overcome the forces of nature.
Situated in the heart of the Middle East, Israel is in one of the driest regions on earth, traditionally relying on a short rainy season each winter to replenish its limited supplies.
Years of decreased rainfall have reduced the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main natural water source, to some of its lowest recorded levels, and Israel has stopped pumping water from it to its national system.
The current drought has also dried out some tributaries that feed into the Jordan River, which flows south into the Sea of Galilee then squiggles 220 miles (360 kilometers) to the lowest place on Earth, the Dead Sea.
The biblical bodies of water are crucial to the survival and stability of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, but they are increasingly drying up, largely due to climate change, growing populations and the greater use of water for agriculture.
In a bid to achieve water security, Israel has opened five desalination plants since 2005 and plans to expand that effort in the coming years. Roughly 40 percent of Israel’s drinking-quality water now comes from desalination and is expected to hit 70 percent in 2050.
When the drought was in its infancy, Israel greeted it with a shrug, pointing to its massive investment in desalination. But the tone has changed recently, and over the last few months a televised ad again has pleaded with Israelis to save water because — rehashing a tagline from previous campaigns — “Israel is drying up.”
Critics say water conservation — a crucial measure in semi-arid Israel — has been sidelined in favor of desalination.
“Israel definitely put conservation on the backburner. As soon as desalination plants were up and running there was this false sense of security,” and water consumption rose, said Sarit Caspi-Oron, director of the water department at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group.
“Desalination doesn’t make up for everything, and when groundwater is suffering from drought and the Sea of Galilee is suffering from drought, you need to conserve,” said Caspi-Oron.
In the past, Israel has imposed taxes on water use during droughts and has promoted the use of water-saving devices. But there are no plans so far to pursue the measures this time around.
Desalinated water reaches Israeli households in the country’s most populated region along the coast as well as some inland residents. But in northern Israel, residents still rely on rapidly shrinking natural sources. So far, their intake has not been limited.
Once bubbling brooks in Israel’s north have been reduced to a trickle. Officials at the historic Tel Dan nature reserve say the springs there will be dry within two months, which could negatively affect tourism in the region.
Among the first to feel the drought’s sting have been farmers in Israel’s Galilee region. Israel has imposed a limit on the amount of water they can use, which has threatened an already tenuous livelihood and forced many to rethink their crops.
Israeli farmer Ofer Moskovitz can typically grow more than one crop each year, but for the first time he has chosen not to plant his wheat crops and is only growing avocados. Even that change is proving a challenge.
“If I don’t water the avocado trees for one day they start getting weak. If I don’t water them for a year, 20 years would go down the drain,” he said.
The existing infrastructure makes it impossible to deliver desalinated water to farmers in the north, said Caspi-Oron.
There are other reasons not to bank on desalination. The plants require immense amounts of energy and are costly to build and operate. Relying so heavily on desalination also creates a potential security risk, as an attack on the plants could potentially knock out large portions of the country’s water supply.
Still, Israel is keeping the technology a priority. The government passed a plan in June to tackle the drought, with its first objective to increase the amount of desalinated water. It also called for springs and tributaries to be rehabilitated and plans to add desalinated water to the Sea of Galilee starting next year, despite criticism from some that this could disturb the balance of minerals in the lake.
Israel is optimistic that the drought can be addressed with a little ingenuity.
The drought “will be solved, there is no question,” Steinitz, the energy minister, said. “This area is not new for us. We simply resume our historic tradition to focus and find developing water solutions.”

Main category: 
Israeli army says closed field hospital for SyriansIsrael reimposes blockade of fuel deliveries to Gaza Middle-East

Tags


Related Stories

Italy motorway bridge collapses over Genoa, 'dozen' feared dead
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 23:54

Author: ReutersID: 1534245402692488100Tue, 2018-08-14 11:06 GENOA: A motorway bridge collapsed on Tuesday over the northern Italian port ci...

Italy motorway bridge collapses over Genoa, 'dozen' feared dead
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 23:54

Author: ReutersID: 1534245402692488100Tue, 2018-08-14 11:06 GENOA: A motorway bridge collapsed on Tuesday over the northern Italian port ci...

Assaults by Taliban raise questions about US plan for peace
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 16:36

Author: APID: 1534221306051552700Tue, 2018-08-14 (All day) WASHINGTON: A year after the Trump administration introduced its strategy for Af...

The August Milky Way over the Nivolet Pass by Fabio Santucci
  • Tue, 14 Aug 2018 14:53

The August Milky Way over the Nivolet Pass by Fabio Santucci Another shot of the Milky Way on the Nivolet Pass (Img 4821) ...

Splits deepen over Johnson’s comments
  • Mon, 13 Aug 2018 09:49

Author: ReutersID: 1534119234715216900Sun, 2018-08-12 11:19LONDON: Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson returned from his summer ho...

Its Hard to Know the Value of Water Till the Well Run Dry.
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 12:44

Its Hard to Know the Value of Water Till the Well Run Dry   It is hard to imagine what the world would be without water. The largest part of...

Controversy over unprecedented court ruling for dog killer in Lebanon
  • Sun, 12 Aug 2018 12:44

Author: Najia HoussariID: 1534027041065695500Sun, 2018-08-12 01:36 BEIRUT: In an unprecedented ruling in Lebanon, Mansour El Kahi, an inves...

UK PM May’s Conservative party takes lead over Labour — Times
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:37

Author: ReutersID: 1533945791460136800Fri, 2018-08-10 07:15LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has taken a fou...

A goodwill gesture over electricity sows discord in Lebanon
  • Sat, 11 Aug 2018 00:31

Author: By PHILIP ISSA | APID: 1533882241614511100Fri, 2018-08-10 (All day) BEIRUT: A goodwill gesture to power-starved Lebanon from an ene...

Australia’s most populous state entirely in drought
  • Thu, 09 Aug 2018 16:46

Author: APID: 1533783082106428500Wed, 2018-08-08 (All day) CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s most populous state was declared entirely in ...

Australia strips five of citizenship over Daesh links
  • Thu, 09 Aug 2018 13:55

Author: AFPID: 1533786080626535400Thu, 2018-08-09 03:38 SYDNEY: Five people have been stripped of their Australian citizenship for fighting...

Like fish in the water by Laura Alonso
  • Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:14

Like fish in the water by Laura Alonso Swimming in the pool. Minimal aproach. Laura Alonso: Photos ...


الاقسام