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Israel’s best practices how to win drought

Drought, Israel, lessons learned, agri, desalination, reuse, recycle, wastewater, aquifer, water stress

Drip irrigation’s compostable plastic pipes for sustainable agriculture

Israel’s turnaround came with a seven-year drought, one of the most severe to hit modern Israel, that began in 2005 and peaked in the winter of 2008 to 2009.

The country needed to introduce measures and become drought resistant.

Now, the country has enough water for people, industries and agri.

What did they do? Lessons learned from a country where every drop of water counts.

Israel, fresh water technology

Dan Galbraith shows the top an underground water sensor in a Limoneira lemon grove near Terra

Israel has been dealing with drought throughout its history. The climate has forced the country to go to unusual lengths to lower consumption and raise supply, methods it now uses as a matter of routine. The highlights:

  • Desalination

In Israel, desalination now provides about one-quarter of the country’s water supply. Most popular is the reverse-osmosis desalination technology. Seawater is pre-treated before being sent through a series of filtration membranes that remove salt and other impurities. The electric power comes from Concentrated Solar Plants.

The Sorek desalination plant is said to be the largest plant of its kind in the world. It produces 40 billion gallons of potable water a year, enough for about a sixth of Israel’s roughly eight million citizens.

  • Reuse wastewater 

In Israel, 75% of the country’s wastewater is recycled. More than 80% of water used in agriculture comes from treated sewage. More than 50% of the water for Israeli households and industry is now artificially produced.

  • Different crops

Israeli agriculture moved away from water-intensive crops and pioneered enormously improved efficiency. Israel also increased the use of brackish water in agriculture.

  • Drip irrigation

No innovation has been more important for Israel’s desert farms than drip irrigation. Most of the world’s farmers water their crops by flooding their fields with sprinklers or hoses, often wasting water as they go.

With drip irrigation, a process pioneered in Israel 50 years ago, water seeps directly into the ground through tiny pinpricks in hoses, avoiding water loss through evaporation.

  • Minimize leakage

Leak detection is a big priority to reduce water loss. Israel has also been able to lower leakage to less than 10 percent, by using technology that monitors water grids and warns suppliers of leaks and pipe bursts.

In cities around the world, about 25 to 30% of the world’s water production is wasted because of faults in distribution.

  • Intelligent water use

You want water, here’s water. Use it. Use it as you want, but use it wisely.

Water saving campaigns were demonstrably effective; they reduced water use by at least 10%. No car washing, filling pools, encourage short showers, no spills in the gardens and watch your tap! That saved us a desalination plant.

Many people went over to synthetic grass and swapped their seasonal blooms for hardy, indigenous plants more suited to a semiarid climate.

Water Authority representatives went house to house offering to fit free devices on shower heads and taps that inject air into the water stream, saving about a third of the water used while still giving the impression of a strong flow.

Officials say that wiser use of water has led to a reduction in household consumption of up to 18 percent in recent years.

  • Aquifers

At the same time as desalination has supplemented natural sources, Israel has also become more efficient in the collection of rainfall. As they improved, the aquifers and springs filled up.

Mind changer

Israelis’ close attention to rainfall and drought comes from an education and culture that teaches them the importance of every drop in an arid region.

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