Israel, like other rich countries in the Middle East, has had to rely a lot on desalination plants to supply much of its drinking water. Desalination now supplies Mideast countries like Saudi Arabia, which is said to have the world’s largest desalination plant. The country receives almost all its fresh water supplies from this energy-intensive process.
In addition to using a significant amount of energy to remove salt and other minerals as well as various pollutants from sea water, the process also is responsible for contributing to raising the salinity levels in sea water due to the highly saline outflow that is returned back into the sea during the desalination process. Studies that have been made to this effect indicate that as more and more desalination plants are used, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, the sea water in these regions will become more and more saline which will be very damaging to marine life.
The recent winter storm that slammed into Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, brought rain and winds of almost biblical proportions and literally swamped Tel Aviv and other cities. While the flood and wind damage was significant, there was a silver lining to all the clouds as millions of cubic meters of fresh water not only helped fill reservoirs such as the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest inland fresh water lake, but also helped replenish the water level in the Dead Sea which in recent years has had significant drops in its water level due to its main water supply source, the Jordan River, being reduced to a mere trickle.
The lack of water in the Dead Sea was brought to world attention with demonstrations by photo artists such as Spencer Tunick, whose nude art photography was shown graphically with the help of 1,000 Israelis who posed naked in the Dead Sea’s placid waters.
The significant flooding that occurred in the desert areas near the Dead Sea helped supply that lake with much needed water supplies. In the coastal areas, flooding of streams like the Kishon, Alexander and Hadera caused havoc to area residents; especially in the city of Hadera and the Arab community of Baqa al Gharbiya where an entire neighborhood had to be rescued by the Israel Navy.
Flooding of the Ayalon and Hayarkon streams in the Tel Aviv area have resulted in large amounts of fresh water finding its way into the Mediterranean and thereby helping to reduce the salinity increase caused by the country’s coastal desalination plants.
An official for the Mekorot Water Company was quoted as saying that last week’s storms resulted in the creation of as much fresh water as an entire year of operation by all of Israel’s desalination plants. The Sea of Galilee lake alone is said have increased its water level by almost 75 centimeters, and it is now the highest it has been in 20 years.
While last week’s stormy weather will not on its own solve the water problems of Israel and other regional countries, it certainly offered a welcome respite, despite the damages caused.
More articles on regional water and issues:
Biblical flood Swamps Tel Aviv and Fills Reservoirs
Following the Naked Dead Sea Would You Strip for the Jordan River?
Saudi Arabia Opens World’s Largest Desalination Plant
New Hadera Desalination Plant May Help Restore Water to Lower Jordan River
Image of camel in Israel from Shutterstock