Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to tackle Israel's current drought?

IRIN: Israel is suffering from a water crisis and immediate steps must be taken to resolve the problem, Uri Shani, the head of Israel's Water Authority, told the cabinet on 13 April. He said there was a gap between supply and demand that needed to be closed. Over the next five years, the country would be below the "red lines" at all water sources, and there would be a need to significantly increase the amount of water produced by desalination, he said.

The government recently issued a tender for bids to build a new desalination plant to produce 100 million cubic metres of water a year. Officials told IRIN this was only one of several new plants to be constructed in the coming years. However, some experts say desalination is only part of a wider change needed.

The Israeli Union for Environmental Defence (IUED), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), said it might go to the courts to force the state to invest more in conservation, as it promised to do in 2003. "We are not opposed to desalination, but only as part of a wider plan," Aviad Oren, a spokesman for the group, told IRIN, noting that desalination was energy intensive and that, if fossil fuels were used, greenhouse gases would be produced. "We need to save more water, and clean polluted water sources," he said....

Nahal Tze'elim canyon situated in the Judean Desert, Israel, near Masada, descending to the Dead Sea. Photo by Ester Inbar, Wikimedia Commons

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