Water-a-Plenty – Even in Israel?

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 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

Source: Water, water everywhere. Ha’aretz Magazine, 7 March 2008.
Water prophecies: Peace… Let it Flow, Water, Water Everywhere: Domestic Water, The Politics of Water: Study it Dead or Red.

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3 thoughts on “Water-a-Plenty – Even in Israel?”

  1. The non-renewable resource that he’s talking about is fossil fuels, needed to power the energy-hungry desalination process. Desalination is problematic also because it depletes fuel resources and also because it creates greenhouse gases.

    Annual average rainfall – 571-578 mm in Berlin, about 550 in Jerusalem
    So the quote is almost correct, but it can be safely said that the amounts in Berlin and Jerusalem are similar for the long term annual average. Over the last few years it doesn’t appear to be the case that Jerusalem has more rain than Berlin.

  2. Lee says:

    I agree Danny, this quote:
    “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.”
    Where does rain come from? How do reservoirs get topped up? lol, I remember the water cycle from my geography classes back at school. Maybe Mr. Messerschmid chose history instead of geography as his option!
    This comment surprised me though:
    “Jerusalem has more rainfall each year than Berlin and the Palestinian city of Ramallah, 20 minutes drive north of Jerusalem, is wetter than Paris.”
    I suppose it is not about water and the amount of it, more to-do with the climate of the area.

  3. Danny Yarhi says:

    The ocean is a non-renewable resource? The idea that the largest aglomeration of water known to man, that which covers 68% of the earth – think about it now, 68% of the earth – will somehow be affected by desalination plants is not only ludicrous, it’s downright shallow minded. Do you think, Mr. Messerschmid, that the desalinated water will be consumed and dissappear, never to return to its original state and locale?
    Will it be converted to rock perhaps?

    Mr. Messerschimid’s ecological politics are ocluding his judgment.

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