Israeli Water, Mideast Peace? – Seth M. Siegel (New York Times)
Water scarcity is brewing as a major threat to Middle East stability. One country in the region might have a solution to these water woes: Israel. It shares the same problems of climate and desertification as its neighbors, but it has mastered the management of water resources, such that it can endure periodic droughts while supporting a growing population.
Wasteful farming practices – in particular, flooding a field to irrigate it – are the biggest factor behind the regional water shortage. Starting in the 1960s, Israeli farmers abandoned this technique in favor of drip irrigation, producing crop yields vastly greater than those with conventional irrigation. Israel also treats and reuses more than 80% of its household sewage for agriculture.
More than half of Israel’s drinking water – purer, cleaner and less salty than natural sources – now comes from desalinated seawater. Israel’s self-sufficiency is also dependent on robust public education, an obsession with fixing leaks, and efforts to catch rainwater and reduce evaporation.
Israel has transformed water from a struggle with nature to an economic input: You can get all you want if you plan and pay for it.
As water problems grow, one hopes that ideology will give way to pragmatism and may open a door to an Arab and Islamic outreach to Israel. Rather than seeing Israel as a problem, Israel’s antagonists would be wise to see it as a solution.
(Click on the article’s title to see the whole article…Ed.)