July 2017 will likely compete for the title “Hottest Israeli July on Record”, with an average of 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) and 73% relative humidity in the center of the country. With blazing sunshine and high heat, everything should have been parched brownish yellow by now, but Israel’s unique methods for increasing its water supply, combining innovative technology with vision and daring, have enabled the nation thrive.
Still, despite successful water management over the years, Israel lacks sufficient water resources, and threats to their accessibility are ever more serious. Rapid population growth and the desire for a higher standard of living have led to ever-greater increases in water use – for direct consumption, growing food, manufacturing and infrastructure operation. From 2012 to 2014, per capita water consumption rose 20% with an additional 6% rise recorded by 2016, despite the population having grown by only 2% during this time. *
In parallel, the worldwide climate crisis and global warming are causing changes in the amount, distribution and intensity of rainfall, making reliance on this natural resource ever more challenging. Despite the cessation of water pumping quite some time ago, the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is far below the “red line”; the springs in the Galilee region are drying up due to several years of drought; and water levels in the Dead Sea are breaking negative records.
So, despite Israel’s global leadership in water and various solutions such as the National Water Carrier, treating and reusing waste water, efficient drip irrigation and desalinating seawater for drinking – which enabled it to use water in greater quantities than are contained in its soil — we must not forget that economization and proper water use are no less significant or efficient than the most advanced technology. We must beware of complacency and promote education for intelligent water use. Technology and desalination are crucial, but they need to be part of a broader arsenal of tools in which water economization and optimization play an outstanding role.
That’s why we continue educating for wise water consumption in parallel to encouraging the creation of new solutions. The Council for a Beautiful Israel provides programs for all ages in various aspects of the resource, emphasizing its importance, the need for rational water management, identifying hazards and taking action to promote the development of intelligent consumers, equipped to serve as “water ambassadors” to those around them – their schools, families and communities.
*From an article by Prof. Ofira Ayalon in The Marker, July 2017.