Desalination Will Soon Provide 75% Of Israel’s Drinking Water

 

Last week, the country of Israel announced that it would invest $423 million to build a massive new water desalination plant in the Mediterranean coastal city of Ashdod. When combined with the four other plants already in operation, desalination will eventually account for three-quarters of all the drinking water in Israel.

In today’s topsy-turvy world, more people own cell phones than have access to a toilet. Approximately 1 in 8 people lack access to safe drinking water, and 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.

Desalination has long been suggested as a way to extend human access to fresh water, even as climate change and pollution continue to shrink the world’s supply of potable water.

In ancient times, many civilizations used this process on their ships to convert sea water into drinking water, reports the USGS. Today, desalination plants are used to convert sea water to drinking water on ships and in many arid regions of the world, and to treat water in other areas that is fouled by natural and unnatural contaminants. Distillation is perhaps the one water treatment technology that most completely reduces the widest range of drinking water contaminants.

Distillation is too time-consuming, so the most modern desalination plants use reverse osmosis, where high pressure is used to push seawater through a membrane, thereby excluding salt molecules and producing clean, usable water.

Unfortunately, desalination is very costly and demands a large amount of consistent energy. Another way to keep production constant is by building an on-site power plant, thus avoiding production disruptions and price hikes associated with grid-based power. Although most rely on fossil fuels to produce this electricity, the improvement of solar, wind and wave energy technologies could reduce this carbon footprint in the future.

Israel, already one of the world’s most arid nations, has faced six straight years of drought. To avoid further depleting its main fresh water source, the Sea of Galilee (pictured above), it has become a world leader in desalination and wastewater recycling (Reuters).

When it is completed in 2013, Israel’s newest desalination plant will produce 100 million cubic meters of desalinated seawater a year, or 15 percent of Israel’s household water use. According to the country’s Finance Ministry, the water will cost 2.4 shekels ($.67) per cubic meter to produce.

Related Reading:

Drought-Stricken Aussies Forced To Drink Salt Water

Yemen’s Capital Could Run Out Of Water By 2025

Shrinking The Global Water Crisis

World Water Week 2011

Image Credit: Flickr – seetheholyland

78 comments

Juergen Friedrich

The message of Fiona T. made me put another photo into my album 'rain by brain'. It is a mix of text and picture. -- I'll be very grateful to everybody, who checks the spelling of the the text, which I added to the photo, which is origininally from the NASA

Fiona T.
Fi T.3 years ago

Thanks for the technology

Alexandra R.
Alexa R.4 years ago

Hilary S: "israelis are just people like the rest of us, wanting to live as well as they can, and trying to ensure their survival. and while they do so, with remarkable ingenuity, they share their discoveries and inventions with the world. the palestinians are not excluded.

i look forward to the day when the palestinians pour their energies into discovery, invention and sharing."

Star on it's way to you for your great comment Hilary! I share your sentiments.

Desalination is a great idea when using solar, wind and wave energy technologies to supply the energy in the future (near future hopefully). Mazal tov Israel, may man others follow your example..!

Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago

glad they have the technology

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Desalination is not an answer for the long-term! Curbing anthropogenic ecological destruction and overpopulation is!

Juergen Friedrich

@Larry_L -- here some 'windy news', which might lighten your heart ! I took it from http://www.saharawind.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=51

Quote -- Compared to Germany's 1900 hours of wind power production per year, a rather conservative average production figure in the coastal Saharan region would be in the range of 3400 Full Load Hours due to the exceptional quality of the Trade Winds. Taking a price of 1000 €/kW of rated Wind Turbine capacity, 5 % real interest rate, 20 years lifetime, 2% of total investment as annual Operation & Maintenance costs, the wind power generated there costs under 3.0 €cent/kWh. From the single wind measurements available within this territory, we would actually come to better results, as at selected sites a yearly production of more than 4500 FLH can be derived. -- unquote

Larry Lawton
Larry Lawton4 years ago

Desalination is fine, if the energy source is clean. I am all for it if wind or solar or geothermal power is used to supply the energy.

In the preceding discussion about sharing the technology, the issue that is ignored is money. Israel is wealthy, partly because of US aid, but more so because of looting land and water from the Arabs. (The US got wealthy by looting land and resources from the Native Americans. The same is true of many societies. I am not singling out Israel, merely stating a fact.) The point is, the Palestinians and other Arabs, at least those lacking oil, do not have the financial means to build desalination plants or the technological infrastructure to make use of them either (a region wide water distribution system, in particular). Arabs who do have oil often also do have desalination plants.

The real issue, as always, is money and power. Israel is rich and powerful. Its neighbors are not. That is always a bad situation for the people who are not rich and powerful. Ideology and religion are irrelevant, excuses at best. The Israeli government is no better or worse than any other government in a similar situation.

If we want to see Arabs have access to desalination and other benign modern technology, we need to improve their access to wealth and power. Those who benefit from exploiting poor people will oppose this idea.

Juergen Friedrich

@ Grace.A -- your suggestion is wonderful but will cost a lot of money.
Much more than to spray and splash seawater onto hot beaches and into the air, when the wind blows from sea towards land. GONE WITH THE WIND will contribute to water the arid zones of North Africa and the arabic coutries.
The transport costs nothing. The spray & splash program costs about 1 Cent per ton.

Hilary A.
Hilary S.5 years ago

shame that so many people get so wound up in their politics that they fail to perceive that israelis are just people like the rest of us, wanting to live as well as they can, and trying to ensure their survival. and while they do so, with remarkable ingenuity, they share their discoveries and inventions with the world. the palestinians are not excluded.

i look forward to the day when the palestinians pour their energies into discovery, invention and sharing.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam5 years ago

thanks for the article.