Thursday, July 25, 2013

The World Water Crisis and How Israel Can Be of Service - Ornit Avidar

"Been there done that" – is probably the best way to explain Israel's advantage and ability to contribute to the water challenges of developing countries. Our own experience of dealing with draught and lack of water sources for over 60 years and our success in flourishing the desert and having a state of the art water supply system has made the Israeli water industry an expert and stockpile of knowledge and know-how for these critical issues.

Whenever I meet ministers, project managers and other interested entities in Africa, immediately a trust factor forms, because I am perceived as someone who represents a nation that has passed and been in the same situation. Out of necessity, innovation transpires and this is also where the hope factor comes in, if we the Israelis were able to find solutions so will they.

So what are the factors of Israel's success?

What did Israel do to achieve the fantastic fact that "today with 8 million people Israel uses the same amount of natural water as we did in the 1960's with 4 million people".

1. Well personally I have to say that the first is our awareness of the water shortage, which turned Israel into a water saving society – that might seem strange to many, but this awareness is inbreed into children from the age of two, in the kindergartens and throughout the whole education system up to pamphlets and commercials on national TV for adults. Not to mention regulatory issues mandated on industry, progressive water tariffs and more.

2. This awareness has brought on the development and use of different conservation techniques. The famous of them all is drip irrigation, which was invented and already used in Israel in the 1960's. Since agriculture is the highest user of water in most countries, the potential of drip irrigation in water conservation is enormous; Drip irrigation saves up to 50% compared with sprinklers and much more if you compare it to traditional flooding irrigation. Conservation can also be done in the home, by literally using less water and closing the tap frequently, but technology also stepped in here and today we have regulating flow devices ("hashamim" in Hebrew), 2 flush system toilets, low flush and many more. The Industry has its own innovations such as A/C water collection, water cooler tower water reuse, grey-water reuse for flushing, industry water reuse and regulations which improve with the years.

3. The lack of natural sources, brought on the need for new sources and with it waste water reuse for agriculture 

  • Israel produces 520 mcm (million meter cube) of sewage water per year;
  • 475 mcm is collected and treated (91%), the aim is to reach up to 500 mcm by 2015;
  • 360 mcm is reclaimed for irrigation (75%), (Israel NewTech presentation), I am proud to say that this is a world record, the next country in line reuses around 30%.
4. Desalination - Israel is the 4th in the world in reverse osmosis use, and 30% of its water today is desalinated with a capacity to provide Israel with the water it needs for the future. But desalination is an expensive and capital industry, so, several Israeli companies have invented solution using the solar desalination and wave desalination technology to substantially reduce the use of energy in the desalination process.

5. Water Management - Control and monitoring, these are very important components of water usage and savings, over 50% of water can be saved due to proper management.

Put all of these together concurrently with innovation and experience, you have a whole industry which can cater its services towards developing countries and can assist in tackling the vast existing water shortage. 

Ornit Avidar founded WaterWays™ in light of the growing need for clean water in off grid and rural areas and the understanding that everyone is entitled to clean drinking water. Since then she has promoted this issue and the issue of pragmatic low cost innovative solutions for all, as well as sustainability models for long-lasting projects. WaterWays™ is a provider of water solutions for rural areas. Do partner with us for projects in Africa -

1 comment:

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