Three groups of companies are bidding to construct Israel’s largest desalination plant, and the biggest anywhere to employ reverse osmosis technology.
It comes as part of a long-term strategy to prepare Israel for reduced rainfall and multi-year droughts amid fears of the effects of climate change in the arid Middle East.
When the new facility, Israel’s sixth, is completed, it will provide some 200 million cubic meters of water per year, or about one-fifth of household and municipal water consumed in Israel each year, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The three bidders for the tender to finance, construct, and operate the plant for 25 years are Israeli firm IDE (Israel Desalination Enterprises) Technology, Hutchison Water, and a partnership of Afcon, Acciona and Allied Investments, the ministry announced.
All three have already passed detailed checks by Israeli officials of their financial, legal and technical suitability for the tender, officials said.
The winning bid will also gain the right to construct a private 150-megawatt power station to help power the facility, to be located near Soreq.
Construction is set to begin in 2020, and water production in 2023, at which point Israel, already a world leader in desalination, will be drawing fully 85 percent of its potable water from the sea.
The new tender was ordered in a cabinet decision in June 2018 that noted the damage wrought to the country’s water supply by a five-year drought. The tender was fast-tracked by state agencies.
A tender for a seventh plant is planned in the coming year.