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Panel approves sixth desalination plant to sate Western Galilee

Local protesters fail to have planned facility moved within existing industrial zone in coastal Acre, rather than on agricultural land

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Residents of the Western Galilee call for a new desalination plant to be located in an existing industrial zone in coastal Acre, rather than on agricultural land. (Stop the Western Galilee Desalination Plant Campaign, Facebook)
Residents of the Western Galilee call for a new desalination plant to be located in an existing industrial zone in coastal Acre, rather than on agricultural land. (Stop the Western Galilee Desalination Plant Campaign, Facebook)

Israel’s National Infrastructure Committee on Monday green lighted construction of a desalination plant in the Western Galilee — Israel’s sixth.

The new plant will be erected in two stages on agricultural land near Kibbutz Shavei Zion near Route 4. Each stage will provide 100 million cubic meters of water annually.

The Western Galilee has suffered from years of low rainfall and has been unable to receive desalinated water from plants further south because of the difficulties and cost of building infrastructure to move the water over the Carmel Ridge.

A local protest movement has so far failed in its campaign to have the facility located in the industrial zone of the coastal city of Acre, rather than on agricultural land close to Shavei Zion and Kibbutz Lochamei HaGettaot.

To meet the challenges of reduced rainfall and multi-year droughts as the climate warms, Israel has built five desalination plants — in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Palmachim, Sorek and Hadera. These supply around 80 percent of the country’s drinking water. Mekorot, the national water company, receives the water from the plants and channels it into the national water carrier.

A contract for seventh plant, alongside the Sorek facility, is expected to be awarded soon.

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