by Rod D. Martin
May 18, 2015
While California politicians do everything they can to make their years-long drought profoundly worse, Israel is acting to solve its similar problem. The solution lies on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea just 10 miles south of Tel Aviv.
From the MIT Technology Review:
It is the world’s largest modern seawater desalination plant, providing 20 percent of the water consumed by the country’s households. Built for the Israeli government by Israel Desalination Enterprises, or IDE Technologies, at a cost of around $500 million, it uses a conventional desalination technology called reverse osmosis (RO). Thanks to a series of engineering and materials advances, however, it produces clean water from the sea cheaply and at a scale never before achieved.
700 million people don’t have access to clean water. But even if they did, the need for clean water continually arises in areas that have it, and as anyone who’s ever seen a South Florida sinkhole can attest, the burden being placed on aquifers is already too great. As I’ve long advocated, desalination technology is key, particularly on a planet whose surface is 70% H2O, 96.5% of which is saltwater.
Everything we need is right in front of us. We just have to solve this one technological problem. Back to this Israelis:
The new plant in Israel, called Sorek, was finished in late 2013 but is just now ramping up to its full capacity; it will produce 627,000 cubic meters of water daily, providing evidence that such large desalination facilities are practical. Indeed, desalinated seawater is now a mainstay of the Israeli water supply. Whereas in 2004 the country relied entirely on groundwater and rain, it now has four seawater desalination plants running; Sorek is the largest. Those plants account for 40 percent of Israel’s water supply. By 2016, when additional plants will be running, some 50 percent of the country’s water is expected to come from desalination.
So much for claims that desalination isn’t scalable. But this is exactly what we’d expect from a country best noted for “making the desert bloom.”
Southern California as we know it was made possible by a similar spirit. Without Hoover Dam and its sister facilities, the region from San Diego to Santa Barbara could support only a tiny fraction of the population that makes it one of the richest and most creative spots on Earth. We thought in these terms once.
We should again. And nowhere more so than in Sacramento, California.
Read the full article here.