Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Water, water everywhere ...and it is all good?

Everyday something or the other completely amazes me.  It could be nature, my own stupidity, or an impressive achievement.  No, the achievement is not an Olympic gold medal--after all, you know well what I think about that expensive mass entertainment ;)

A human achievement that amazed me?
Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.
In the old days, we used to joke that with enough money, water will run uphill.  Without money and water running uphill, Southern California will be one heck of a desert by now.  Instead of being bone dry, it now gets water from all directions, with water running uphill at many places thanks to the power of electricity and pumping, which cannot happen without money.

Now, money and ingenuity turns salty sea water into a potable variety.
Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
Boggles my mind!  Aren't you also impressed?  What a turnaround in a decade!
In 2008, Israel teetered on the edge of catastrophe. A decade-long drought had scorched the Fertile Crescent, and Israel’s largest source of freshwater, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped to within inches of the “black line” at which irreversible salt infiltration would flood the lake and ruin it forever. Water restrictions were imposed, and many farmers lost a year’s crops.
It was the same drought that catalyzed the instability in Syria.
 “The drought lasted for years, and no one said anything against the government. Then, in 2011, we had had enough. There was a revolution.” That February the Arab Spring uprisings swept the Middle East. In Syria, protests grew, crackdowns escalated and the country erupted with 40 years of pent-up fury.
Israel managed its meager resources well.
The turnaround started in 2007, when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed nationwide and the national water authority built innovative water treatment systems that recapture 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain and use it for irrigation — vastly more than the second-most-efficient country in the world, Spain, which recycles 19 percent.
Pause for a second and re-read that.  Israel recaptures about 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain, and the next best effort comes from Spain, which recycles 19 percent.  It is one hell of a gap between 19 and 86, right?  Think about India and China and everywhere else, and about all the water that is wasted.

If all that does not impress you enough, consider this:
Water produced by desalination costs just a third of what it did in the 1990s. ... Israeli households pay about US$30 a month for their water — similar to households in most U.S. cities, and far less than Las Vegas (US$47) or Los Angeles (US$58).
As the article notes, this level of a sophisticated desalination technology is a game changer.  If only our collective efforts would be directed towards such important aspects of life, instead of on Olympics and Facebook and ...


Mike Hoth said...

Guilty as charged on the count of "focusing on the Olympics". I saw your title and thought of the green-colored water in Rio's Olympic diving pool. I watch more television in a week of the Olympics than most months of the year.

It is impressive just how far Israel has come with their water crisis. I remember when experts were saying Israel would have two Dead Seas if things continued, and I also remember a certain US state claiming it would be too expensive to build desalination plants to solve their own drought. Perhaps once the Olympic Games end and everybody sees their brown lawns, they'll focus on water. Oh wait, football will be starting soon after the Olympics!

Sriram Khé said...

Yep, football will begin. The TV folks always carefully schedule things out so that people will be hooked on to the tube.
Speaking of football, one of the sarcastic jokes my friendly neighbor has had for years is this: America has only two religions--college football and NFL ;)

Sriram Khé said...

"people take sport more seriously than religion"
I tell ya, that's one of the places where problems begin ... as an atheist who doesn't care for sports, that's easy for me ;)

Anne in Salem said...

Technology is amazing.

I wonder sometimes about the adage that just because we can, doesn't mean we should. Should Israel be so watered? Should California? If crops grew where they grow naturally, water use would plummet. Israelis need to eat, drink and bathe, but do they need such water-hungry crops? Is there a better alternative?

Sriram Khé said...

Hey, look who is baaaaaaaaaack!!!!! ;;)

The better alternative is for humans to reduce their consumption, which apparently we won't ... therefore, it is better to after technology that can help us out ...

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