As frightening and insurmountable a challenge as chronic and growing water shortages may seem, there are solutions at hand that can save us from crises.
A small country in one of the driest regions in the world Among them
that developed policies and techniques to save water in cities and farms alike. this country Israel
. As drought turns into the new normal, it would be wise for policy makers to take a Look what Israel did
and begin the process of creating their own waterproof communities that are less dependent on rainfall that may never return.
Israel became a state in May 1948, but decades earlier, when it was under the control of the British Mandate, the Zionist leadership began to prioritize excellence in the field of water, along with defense and immigration policy. In most countries, the (non-romantic) issues of water infrastructure and technology fall into the hands of mid-level officials and more junior cabinet members. But reading the diaries of Israel’s founders means to see the daily interest, bordering on obsession, in correcting water policy. For example, long before that Water desalination
took off in Israel, the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion
often wrote of the possibility of ‘desalinating the sea’ in order to ‘make the desert bloom’.
Not everything Israel does matters everywhere. Because of its small size, Approximately the land area of New Jersey
, they can do things more easily than water-poor countries of vast dimensions do. Likewise, having a long coastline and most of its population being relatively within easy reach of the country’s desalination facilities, provides opportunities not available everywhere.
But some of what Israel does, everyone can do – at least in theory.
First, Israel accuses the real water price
. (Although the cost is subsidized for welfare recipients; everyone else pays the full price.) By using market forces
Consumers, farmers, and industry are always looking for ways to conserve water, or use technology that leads to the most efficient use of water possible. In most parts of the world, water is highly subsidized resulting in massive waste of water due to overuse. For example, because at full market it is cheaper to repair leaky pipes than to waste water, Israel has an uncommonly low leakage factor which is about 7-8%
. Even in the United States
There are communities with mains water lose up to 50%
of water flowing through it.
Israel’s success in the water field is also linked to the decision to place the country’s water management in the hands of apolitical technocrats. Their mission is to get the highest quality water to as many people as possible. Price is a factor, but it is not the only factor. By comparison, in some American cities, mayors know that their constituents may see higher water rates as a de facto tax increase. These results
In the hanging water fee and with it inability
To modernize facilities with the best equipment and software, the difficulty of attracting and retaining highly skilled engineers.
Israel also differs from much of the world in its approach to agriculture. decades ago, flood irrigation
– which soak the soil by flooding the fields with water – have been discouraged by the government, effectively ending the practice. However, all over the world, 85 percent of the irrigated fields use flood irrigation
a practice dating back to the time of ancient Egypt and the flooding of the Nile River Basin.
While this wasteful and unsustainable method may be thought to be in use only in less developed countries, here in the United States, we flood millions of acres in California, Texas, and even the dry Southwest. Farmers have little incentive to switch to water-saving technology because they can continue to use water as if it were plentiful and inexhaustible like sunlight or air. In Arizona, for example, 89% of irrigation
Irrigation is used by immersion and in countries that deplete quickly Colorado River Basin
there are up to six million acres that continue to waste trillions of gallons annually by flooding fields.
It is fitting that Israeli technology comes to the rescue in the southwestern United States. The low-cost and attractive drip irrigation, developed by an Israeli scientist, has already been deployed on thousands of acres in Arizona
And in other places. (Full disclosure: I work with This World Company.) This technology provides half the water previously needed for flood-irrigated fields while improving yields and reducing the need for water-polluting fertilizers. This newer approach is similar to the more common form of Drip irrigation invented in Israel
More than 60 years ago. But this system uses gravity as an energy source, eliminating the constant use and expenditure of external energy.
It is said that the wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water. It may be, but it’s cheaper and smarter for every water-stressed region and country to change how they use water. It has to start by changing the way we think about water. And in that, every country—rich or poor, big or small, landlocked or with a long coastline—can learn from what Israel has done.