We’re accustomed to the doom-and-gloom prophecies of Israel’s chronic water shortage and how the thirst of the growing population of a country that is over 50% desert is going to crash and burn one day in the future. So it came as a shock to the system to hear Machiavellian German hydrogeologist, Clemens Messerschmid insist that, “Israel has plenty of water for everyone.”
Apparently Jerusalem has more rainfall each year than Berlin and the Palestinian city of Ramallah, 20 minutes drive north of Jerusalem, is wetter than Paris. In an interview with Ha’aretz he takes aim at what he calls the “myths and misconceptions” of water in Israel. “The periodic water crisis here, every five or ten years, it a virtual one. It’s man-made. Israeli allows itself to waste vast amounts of water and water resources, especially for agriculture,” says Messerschmid, who has been working in Israel and the West Bank for the past 11 years.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Israeli Water Authority doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Messerschmid. “Israel runs its water economy efficiently. The shortage of water encourage technological developments for more efficient use of water in agriculture, industry and the home, and waste-water is recycled and used in agriculture,” they say. “The solution to the water problem in the region is to be found in the creation of new water sources, i.e., by the desalination of sea water and the recycling of wastewater.”
However, Messerschmid pours scorn on ‘technical fixes’ like desalination which makes salty water palatable: “I view the desalination here, and everywhere else in the world, as a great absurdity: It’s crazy to use non-renewable resource that were created millions of years ago in order to manufacture the most mobile element in the universe – water.” His solution? “A fair distribution of the water and a change in Israeli consumption patterns.” Oy vey…