Israel Water Drought

Israel, a country that is 70% desert, has been suffering from water shortage and drought since milk and honey stopped flowing in its rivers.  So much so, that there is a prayer in the daily Jewish morning prayers that asks for rain.  The Kineret (The Sea of Galilee) is Israel’s main source of water (over 30%). There are pumps that draw water from the sea (which is actually a lake) and run the water to the rest of the country through a main pipe line.
Israel and Israelis like to be obsessed with the amount of water in Kineret, and how poorly it is doing, as if there aren’t enough other problems to worry about.

The Israeli government set “red lines” as limits indicating the status of the water level in the Kineret. The top line is the maximum capacity the lake can reach before overflowing and flooding the surrounding areas. The bottom line is an indicator for what is considered dangerous and should not be reached, before the pumps themselves can’t even reach water at such a low level. Sadly, the lower line keeps getting lowered each year.

Areas of the Kineret that have dried up (image from Google search)
Areas of the Kineret that have been sucked dry

This is a reality that we live in Israel and every child grows up aware of this. Growing up in Israel I myself remember being taught to always close the tap while brushing my teeth or soaping my hands, and to turn off the shower while using the soap and shampoo. Whenever we would play with water in a wasteful way as kids in school we would get yelled at by the teachers for wasting water, which coincides with the education we got in school for saving water in general.

Israel because of this has become a leader in water saving and preservation. It was one of the first countries to utilize everywhere the “half flush” toilet flushing system. The drip watering for agriculture system was invented in Israel, which allows the farmers to save great amounts of water each year. The government is very involved in this as well. There is an entire department in the government devoted to saving water in the country. There are country wide PSAs on prime time television throughout the entire year. A few years ago the government even handed out to 40% of the Israeli households, for free, a sum of 2 million small filters that connect to faucets and shower heads that reduce the water stream by a third. This operation was said to save Israel 25 billion liters of water a year. There are also rules preventing the use of sprinklers during the day not to waste water because of evaporation.
Israel also has among the most advanced water treatment and purifying plants in the world.  Israel purifies and recycles wastewater and sewage for gardening and farming use, and purifies ocean water for drinking.  It even considered building a pipeline to Turkey and buying water from them.  Israel holds a world record for purifying and recycling 80% of its used waters.

This is an example for a government sponsored PSA calling for saving water. It describes how Israel and the whole world is drying up, and that we don’t have water to waste. 

Even though Israel is investing this much in saving water, it is still in a very bad place. Much more work needs to be done, but we are on the right track. Hopefully Israel can lead the way for more countries in the world to follow in its footsteps, because as this PSA states, not only Israel is drying up, the whole world is.

2 thoughts on “Israel Water Drought

  1. I think it’s incredible that water scarcity and droughts aren’t mentioned more in the news. Perhaps I’ve been sheltered from the issue because I’ve lived my entire life in the New York city area, but both this class and your post have highlighted how prevalent the problem actually is. I knew about the lack of water in California and certain parts of Asia, but your post brought Israel to my attention for the first time. The only direct experience I’ve had with drought was when I visited L.A. this past summer. It was surreal to see advertisements for services that would spray paint their customers’ lawns green. It’s worrisome to think that practices like that may become the norm in a few short years if we as a society fail to adopt certain measures concerning water recycling/preservation like the ones taken in Israel.

  2. Hey there Dani, I agree that this is a fascinating topic and I enjoyed your personal anecdotes. I am also very interested by Israel’s water purification and conservation efforts. Israel has the world’s most advanced desalination technology, something that will certainly become increasingly valuable to more countries around the world. In fact, California has already employed Israeli companies to help convert sea water into potable water.