After years of constantly being urged to conserve water, the National Water Authority announced Tuesday that Israelis no longer need to fear droughts and that the country’s water worries are essentially over.
The solution for the longstanding problem comes not from the clouds, which have provided generous amounts of rainfall this winter, but primarily from the sea — and the desalination technology that enables transforming its waters into something you can drink.
“Already we are desalinating 25 percent of our consumable water with the aid of three active plants. And with two more in the works, we will increase that amount to 50%. The drought that has plagued us in recent years is definitely over,” said Avner Hermoni, CEO of Derech Hayam desalination.
“Sea of Galillee water levels are no longer an issue,” added Danny Sofer, a regional director for the national Mekorot water company. He said that water from the northern lake now makes up only 10% of Israel’s sources.
The Sea of Galilee — Lake Kinneret — has already collected enough water to reach its average yearly total, with over 330 days left to round out the total.
Thanks to the heaviest winter rains Israel has seen in decades earlier this month, the lake hit the 1.57 meter mark late last week — the average yearly intake — raising it to 210.84 meters below sea level, the highest it’s been since 2006, and only two meters below the level at which water would have to be let out.
The technological advances, together with the wet weather, have led the Water Authority to nix its water conservation campaign after running it for years.
“You can now shower alone,” Sofer joked, though he added that wise use of water is always sound policy.
Unfortunately for the public, being wealthy in water hasn’t yet translated to cheaper prices. Desalination is expensive, and on January 1 the price of water increased by 3 percent for the first 3.5 cubic meters per person in the household, bringing it to NIS 9.09 ($2.43).
Beyond the allocated 3.5 cubic meters, water costs NIS 14.60 per cubic meter. The price increases adds up to a total 36% increase since 2010.