The new Israeli export: water technology

The Israeli water industry took over the convention center here this week to show the world its bacterial sewage scrubbers and computerized shower heads, its low-flow nipples to grow high-yield tomatoes, and its early-warning mathematical algorithms to detect dribbles, leaks and bursts.

It might not have been the sexiest business conference in a country that refers to itself as “start-up nation,” but there’s a lot of money in water.

Israel wants to be seen in the water world the same admiring way it is viewed in the realm of high-tech. The country’s exports of water products have tripled in the past five years and now total $2 billion, according to Israel’s economic ministry. Its biggest customer is the United States, but new markets are opening in countries with an emerging middle class, such as Mexico, Turkey, China and India.

Because of Israel’s history of scarcity, isolation and resourcefulness, it has the jump in water management and conservation.

Here is more, and it is time to have a good long read article on Israeli water policy and technology.  Here are three bits:

Israel recycles more than 80 percent of its effluents, compared with about 1 percent in the United States, the governor said.


Israel is a world leader in desalination of seawater. By next year, more than a third of Israel’s tap water will come from the Mediterranean Sea and a few briny wells. Israel’s total water consumption remains nearly at 1964 levels — even though its population has quadrupled to 8 million people, according to the economic ministry.


There are 280 water technology companies in Israel.

Here is further background on Israeli water policy.  One obvious element here, of course, is that water policy for Israel is a matter of national security.


Is water technology really "the new Israeli export?" It seems very old. "Making the desert bloom" was the first thing I can remember hearing about Israel as a child back in the 1960s. By some point many decades ago, Israel was famous (at least in dry California) for inventing "drip irrigation."

From Wikipedia:

Usage of a plastic emitter in drip irrigation was developed in Israel by Simcha Blass and his son Yeshayahu.[5]Instead of releasing water through tiny holes, that are blocked easily by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways by using velocity to slow water inside a plastic emitter. The first experimental system of this type was established in 1959 by Blass who partnered later (1964) with Kibbutz Hatzerim to create an irrigation company called Netafim. Together they developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter.[6]

if i were you, i'd be very careful about using wikipedia as a primary reference. look at what you copied and pasted; specifically " using velocity to slow water". that doesn't even make any sense !

(Ir)regardless, he's right. Some of the best produce I've ever had was grown in Israel. There is some relatively fertile ground up north, but even in the southern desertified areas the roads are lined with date trees.

Sorry, that should have ended with "And that has been the case for decades, it's not a new thing."

The same applies to Singapore.

Always interesting how scarcity fuels in I action in some countries and complacency in others.

I have always wondered why Israel doesn't make more use of the head difference between the Med and the dead sea. You could run a pipeline from the med into the dead sea, using the pressure at the dead sea to drive membrane osmosis. The waste water would be used to replenish the dead sea, which is currently drying up. Desalination is a power hungry technology and this would be one way to get basically free power.

Infrastructure costs perhaps. A 100 km large diameter pipeline costs money; a lot of it would probably have to be underground. Perhaps pressurized too.

The total head does exist but the terrain isn't flat between. Nor a gentle slope.

Ok, so you use the natural pressure differential to push Med water through a membrane. Then you either (a) drop it into the saltiest sea on earth. Or (b) pump it to somewhere else that is inevitably at a higher elevation than the Med, thus using more energy than you saved.

This idea has been kicking around for over a century.

The idea is nice, but it never passed a cost-benefit analysis. As a senior treasury official I participated in the deliberations about it, and reconsidered it numerous times since.

Given the evaporation rate of the Dead Sea, you could only built a 160MW hydro plant. This is way too small to justify any substantial investment. You could bump it up to 1000MW with an OTEC plant, but given the expense you might as well just build one on the shores of the Med and skip the whole canal/pipeline project.

"Israel’s total water consumption remains nearly at 1964 levels — even though its population has quadrupled to 8 million people"

There's two ways to reduce consumption: Either just stop doing the water intensive things yourself. e.g. Outsource you farming & any water intensive industries etc.

The other way is doing things more efficiently. In Israel's case, I wonder which effect contributes more to this spectacular fourfold improvement in per capita consumption.

They even Jew you on the water. Save your shekels, goys, if you want some of that Jewish water.


That's what happens when the people running the country like (rather than hate) the people living in the country.

Says some loser who's never set foot in the country and knows nothing of its demographics.

You failed to point out that Israel gets a lot of water from the Mountain Aquifer -- while preventing Palestinians from using that same water, via regulations on wells and pipes in Area C.

That is a black eye that puts Israel in a much worse spot than Singapore, even acknowledging Israel's good job with recycling, etc.

Oh, and don't forget that Israeli farmers STILL export a lot of water in crops. It's not national security as much as handouts to farmers (that's why the cities are going to desal, so farmers can use more).

More here:

You make farming exports sound evil.

They are if they are subsidized by locals (e.g., US or EU) for the benefit of farmers and the detriment of international farmers (e.g., Haiti)

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