Water in Israel

Water Desalinization Plant


During the British Mandate, English water experts estimated that Palestine had enough water for 2 million inhabitants. Today, Israel alone has almost 9 million inhabitants. That does not include the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. British calculations were wrong. Despite Israel’s much larger population, it has enough water for all its inhabitants, and in fact, exports water to Jordan, as well as exporting water-rich fruit and vegetables.

While in many areas Israelis rightly complain about the poor planning of the government, water is the one area in which the governments of Israel have done an excellent job in planning, since the earliest times. This combined with diverse and extensive innovations by Israeli scientists have allowed Israel to continue to grow, without running out of water.

In 1952, Israel began the planning for the National Water Carrier, whose purpose was to transport water from the Lake of Galilee to the center and south of the country. The carrier was completed in 1964.

During the 1990’s, Israel encountered a number of years of drought. In addition, as part of its peace agreement with the Jordanians, it agreed to provide water to Jordan. Thus in 2000, the Israeli cabinet approved the construction of the first desalination plant, which was to provide 50 million cubes of water a year. The first plant was located in Ashkelon, and construction began in 2003. Soon after, work began on a second plant at Palmachim. Since then, three additional desalinization plants have been built. As of 2018, 585 million m3 (cubic meters) of water per year are desalinated in the State of Israel. The Soreq plant provides 150 million m3 per year; the Hadera plant 127 million; the Ashkelon plant 115 million; the Palmachim plant 90 million; and the Ashdod plant 100 million.

In addition to desalination, Israel has one of the world's most successful water treatment systems in the world. Today, 100% of Israel's sewage water is reused for agriculture; agriculture that has been watered by Israeli-designed drip irrigation systems, for decades.

Despite these actions, a prolonged drought has convinced Israel that it must increase its investment in desalination plants. In April 2018, an initial tender was issued for the construction of a new desalinization plant to be built in central Israel, near Soreq. The plant, which will be one of the biggest in the world, has been envisioned to produce 150 million m3 of water per year. This will increase Israel’s desalinization capacity by 25%. An additional plant is planned for Northern Israel, which will bring Israel’s production of fresh water from sea water to close to 1 bn cubic meters a year. This is expected to be more than enough to meet all of Israel domestic needs, and it is hoped to be even enough to allow Israel to pump water back into the ground and eventually into the Sea of Galilee. The past two years have been wet ones in Israel and Sea of Galilee has filled.