On an otherwise ordinary day, hundreds of guests gathered at the Beautiful Israel center in HaYarkon Park for a fascinating encounter with a special guest, who shared the wonderful story of Israel as a key player in the field of water. In the large hall overlooking the green garden alongside the Yarkon stream, young people, educators and academics, business people and CEO’s of leading bodies gathered to hear Seth Siegel – businessman, entrepreneur, water activist and successful author — sing the Israel’s praises as one of the only nations to overcome the lack of water in its region. Siegel had come to Israel to take part in the world’s largest water conference, WATEC — a professional platform for experts, entrepreneurs and other interested parties seeking to promote current and future trends in the global water arena — where he also gave a TEDx talk.
The CBI event kicked-off with Chairman of the Council for a Beautiful Israel, former Minister of Agriculture and Member of Knesset Avraham Katz-Oz, who talked about his personal experience of water and land problems as a pioneer settler in the Negev. He revealed some intriguing, previously confidential stories from his time in government and on special water and infrastructure national committees.
Seth Siegel then took the stage, providing an articulate, concise summary of the factors that led to Israel’s success in overcoming its lack of water over the years of the Jewish people’s revival in the land. He then took questions from the audience, touching upon the environmental, economic and geopolitical aspects of this issue. One interesting question dealt with the future of Israeli water technologies – and the next headlines expected to emerge “from Zion”.
Siegel believes that Israel will make two central contributions: One will come in the form of innovative, groundbreaking technology for producing water from sources not considered previously, such as producing water from the atmosphere (air). Like the solar water heaters that dot the roofs of almost every building in Israel, providing free hot water, he expects to see devices on every rooftop producing water from thin air; Another trend is the decentralization of water infrastructures, moving from large land-hungry national and regional facilities to smaller local installations that answer specific needs and free-up costly land for real estate development.
Another important question concerned whether the solution of Israel’s water crisis through technological means that the public no longer needs to save every drop — despite the fact that the situation in nature, especially in Israel’s streams and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), has never been so bad. Siegel noted that in a democratic society everyone has an impact; therefore, organizations like the Council for a Beautiful Israel, The Jewish National Fund and others must continue working to educate and increase public awareness, making the subject of water part of everyone’s lives. Proper and responsible water management, he noted, is not a new burden: it is our heritage.
Siegel invited the audience members to keep in touch and to share their experience and know-how. Audience members also received copies of his book, Let There be Water (recently published in Hebrew as “The Struggle for Every Drop”), with a personal inscription in Hebrew. Siegel, who was surprised by the success of his first book, with a printing of more than 50,000 copies, is now working on a new book, which will deal with the widespread pollution of drinking water in the United States.
We thank Seth Siegel for an inspiring lecture and for his interest in Beautiful Israel and its activities.