Israelis have much to be proud of — the country has an impressively long list of accomplishments compared to its scant 69 years. Still, even the most patriotic Israeli would stop short of calling the nation a superpower.
But that’s exactly what author Seth M. Siegel writes about in his New York Times bestseller “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World.”
On Monday, September 11, Siegel will discuss Israel’s history and what it did to become a major player in the world’s water games, in an event produced by the Tel Aviv International Salon in conjunction with The Times of Israel.
The Times of Israel’s Miriam Herschlag will moderate the event, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Tel Aviv Community Center on 16 Dov Hoz Street.
Water security is a subject that piqued Siegel’s interest when he attended a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations, of which he’s a member. Siegel heard a US government official tell members that the world was about to enter a period of prolonged water shortage.
“I came away with a feeling of, ‘My God, why don’t I know any of this?’ I asked senators and congressmen who were my friends — and they didn’t know about it either,” he said.
Israel’s global standing when it comes to water management is particularly salient in an era where experts predict that just as wars are fought over oil today, the wars of the near future will be fought over water.
With scientists attributing mammoth droughts such as in California to climate change, and with the world’s largest aquifers “past the point of sustainability,” it looks like the near future is coming faster than we think.
Despite the challenges, Israel is not just treading water — it’s thriving.
“No other country with a growing population, growing economy and falling level of rainfall has been able to achieve anything remotely like what Israel has done,” Siegel told The Times of Israel in a 2015 interview.
His message has been in such high demand that he’s given hundreds of interviews and lectures.
“People are excited by the message of the book — that there is a solution for the coming global water crisis — and they come up to me afterward, I don’t mean one or two, but significant numbers of people. They tell me they want to come visit Israel and learn from Israel,” Siegel said.
In the 1930s British economists predicted that all of Palestine — including today’s Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, had enough water to sustain 2 million people.
Today, the area is home to more than 12 million people, and not only is there enough water to go around, but Israel is able to export billions of dollars worth of water, and water-intensive produce, to its neighbors annually.
Siegel said that this is due to a culture of water conservation and economy.
Over the years, Israel has implemented centralized water planning and real pricing, appointed regulators, educated citizens to conserve water, desalinated sea water, used drip irrigation and treated nearly all of its sewage, recycling it for crops.
The result, Siegel said, is that while Israel has many problems, “in this one narrow area it’s a world leader.”
Simona Weinglass contributed to this story.
Seth Siegel at the Tel Aviv International Salon
Monday, September 11, 7:30 p.m.
Tel Aviv Community Center, 16 Dov Hoz
Tickets: NIS 20, available HERE