New York Times features Israel as world’s desalination giant

Prominently unfriendly newspaper on Israeli politics runs extensive feature detailing Israel’s history from a country critically dependent on rainwater to a desalination superpower.
• Israel leads the world in recycling domestic wastewater by treating 86% for agricultural use.

By Erez Linn


The front page story of The New York Times on Saturday hailed Israel and its government for its technologically advanced water desalination system.

The New York Times’ front page

The newspaper displayed an extensive piece alongside a large picture, which tells the story of Israel’s path from a country critically dependent on rain water to a desalination superpower.

“A major national effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and recycle wastewater has provided the country with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts. More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced,” Isabel Kershner, a reporter from the newspaper’s office in Jerusalem, wrote.


According to Kershner, the turnaround came when a seven-year drought, one of the most severe to hit Israel ever, began in 2005 and peaked in 2008 and 2009, forcing Israel to turn to water desalination and recycling. The country’s main natural water sources — the Sea of Galilee in the north and the mountain and coastal aquifers — were severely depleted.

These days, the article adds, Israel has become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86% of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use.

“Spain is second, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent,” the article said.

Kershner stresses Israel’s water revolution might have geopolitical significance: “A new era of water generosity could help foster relations with the Palestinians and with Jordan.”

The article will likely garner great deal of attention in the U.S., as the media there is increasingly preoccupied with the severe drought that has struck California, an agriculture powerhouse, and other parts of the western U.S.

The water crisis in those areas has led to the re-examination of U.S. water policy and to the implementation of severe restrictions by U.S. water management authorities.


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