Water Week

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Water wars: 13pc of Israel’s water made for $US 0.52 a m3/year, at Ashkelon, largest seawater desal in the world, powered with gas, within rocket-range of Gaza Strip

Posted by waterweek on 25 September 2007

Thirteen per cent of Israel’s water was made at Ashkelon. Ashkelon was only 11 KM from Gaza, in the range of rocket and artillery fire. Ashkelon, was the largest seawater RO (Reverse Osmosis) plant in the world with a capacity of 320,000 m3/day (100 million m3 a year. Phil Dickie, WWF in the paper ‘Making Water – Desalination option or distraction for a thirsty world?’, said Israel planned large scale desalination to resolve a water crisis of reductions in both the quality and quantity of water – and over-extractions and low flows in the Jordan River, and contamination and depletion of natural water sources and successive droughts in the early part of the century. Recurrent droughts, fears of the future impact of climate change and water related provisions in international agreements between Israel and other states in this highly volatile area also complicated the position”.

Water for about $US 0.52 a m3: The plant, powered with its own dedicated gas turbine power station, was at the cutting edge of efficiency and produces water for about $US 0.52 a m3. “Ashkelon produces around 13 per cent of Israel’s domestic consumer demand – at one of the world’s lowest ever prices for desalinated water.

Israel’s desal plans: Israel plans to use its desalinated water not only to fulfil shortfalls in supply but also to facilitate replenishment of its natural reservoirs. Associated plans include the restoration of damaged or contaminated natural water sources and infrastructure and commitments to lift an already high level of water and effluent recycling. Pollution of rivers and the marine environment is becoming an increasing issue in Israel but effluent desalination plants are a long way down the list of concerns, behind raw sewage from a lack of treatment facilities in Gaza and overflows and inadequate treatment from Israeli facilities and industrial and water treatment sludge from Israeli facilities.

Polluted oceans, to increase desal costs: Indeed, there is a concern that the flows of pollution into the Mediterranean will increase desalination costs, which are related to the quality of intake water and more frequent membrane servicing. The two governments and the Palestinian Authority recently agreed to participate in a feasibility study of a “peace conduit” from the Gulf of Aquaba to the Dead Sea, with a large desalination facility powered by renewable hydrostatic energy close to the Dead Sea. However, the project has its opponents, some of whom would prefer to see desalinated water from Israel’s northerly Mediterranean facilities used to help address over-extractions and low flows in the Jordan River as the key cause of the Dead Sea’s woes. There are also concerns that imported Red Sea water will harm the delicate Dead Sea ecosystem”.

Reference: Phil Dickie, WWF for a living planet, ‘Making Water – Desalination option or distraction for a thirsty world?’, June 2007.

Erisk Net, 23/9/2007

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