Not a drop to drink? Not so fast.
Photo by Ron Almog/Flickr.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Israel has solved its water scarcity crisis by incorporating Mediterranean seawater and recycled wastewater.
People living on the U.S. West Coast can relate to Israel’s struggles with drought and water scarcity. With a dry, Mediterranean climate and large stretches of desert, both regions have to become clever when the wells run dry. But in stark contrast to the U.S., Israel has resolved its water problems and has become a world leader in water recycling efforts in what seems like no time at all.
In just six years, Israel went from struggling to meet water demands after a series of severe droughts to recycling 86% of its wastewater and desalinating nearby seawater, according to a New York Times report. To put that impressive leap into perspective, the U.S. recycles a measly 1% of its wastewater for agricultural use. Before the Israeli government implemented aggressive recycling methods, residents were required to limit their shower times, forgo washing their cars, and abandon watering their lawns to maintain potable water reserves. “Now there is no problem of water,” agronomist Shaul Ben-Dov told the Times. “The price is higher, but we can live a normal life in a country that is half desert.”
But it’s not just due to improved water recycling and desalination efforts that Israel averted a national crisis. Under the guidance of the Water Authority, an agency created in response to dwindling water reserves in 2007, government employees installed water-saving showerheads in every household. This and other conservation campaigns helped cut residential water use down by roughly 20%.
Americans would be wise to follow Israel’s lead in conserving existing water sources and funding modern desalination methods. Despite pulling out of a severe drought last winter, unusually dry conditions are causing Californians to once again worry about natural resources and a long-term plan.