SoCal looks to Israel to solve its water problems

Los Angeles County signs deal with Jewish state to bring Israeli technology to drought-ridden Southern California

Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera, Israel. (Shay Levy/Flash90)
Visitors top up their glasses with treated sea water at a desalination plant near Hadera, Israel. (Shay Levy/Flash90)

The rains may have finally come to Southern California in recent weeks, but officials know they can no longer rely on the vagaries of nature to ensure a proper water supply and are looking to Israel for help.

In an agreement signed earlier in September, LA County will work with Israel to study Israeli water technology, seeking the most appropriate systems to be used in the county to conserve water resources.

“The technology Israel has developed and employed to stretch its meager water resources is truly impressive,” said LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I look forward to working together on ways that Los Angeles County can benefit from their work on technology and research concerning point of reuse, recycling and groundwater recharge. ”

LA County, which encompasses the City of Los Angeles and dozens of other cities and towns, has nearly 10 million residents; nearly a quarter of all California residents. About half the county’s population gets its water from a network of municipal reservoirs and sources, but the other half gets it water from private water systems – many of them drawing from groundwater. These systems are, according to a recent UCLA study, vulnerable to contamination, limited supply, or inability to supply current and projected demand.

The agreement with LA County is the latest in a series of deals in which California has drawn on Israeli know-how and experience to solve the state’s ongoing water problems.

In March 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a deal with California Governor Jerry Brown to export Israeli desalination, water recovery and recycling, water filtration, and water security technology to the state.

“Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Brown.

In San Diego, America’s biggest desalination plant — the Carlsbad Desalination Project – is nearing completion. The plant is being built by Israel’s Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE) at a cost of nearly $1 billion. When completed in 2016, the plant will produce up to 54 million gallons of fresh water per day. It will also create 2,300 jobs during construction and will support more than 575 jobs for the life of its operations.

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