“For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants.”
In Biblical times, Moses struck a rock for water to flow in the desert. Today, Israeli ingenuity is turning the ‘curse’ into a ‘blessing’, and is sharing that blessing with the world.
Israel is a desert nation and has very little in natural resources. With only three fresh water sources, the Sea of Galilee and two underground freshwater reservoirs, Israelis needed to look elsewhere to find a solution to their water shortages. So, they looked to the largest body of water they have access to, the Mediterranean Sea, and made it their greatest natural resource.
Using a desalination process called “seawater reverse osmosis” they are able to take water from the ocean and turn it into fresh, drinkable water for human consumption.
Today, over 40% of Israel’s drinking water comes from the ocean, a higher percentage than any nation on earth, and the Israeli system is so efficient the water can go from ocean to faucet in under 90 minutes.
Israel does not keep this technology to itself. Israeli desalination technology is now being used in over 40 countries around the world. It is estimated that 300 million people drink desalinated water around the world each day, many of whom have benefited directly from Israeli tech. And, in the hope of trying to combat its water shortage, California is currently building the largest desalination plant in the world and they are doing so using Israeli technology.
Below the Negev Desert is a massive underground reservoir nicknamed the ‘desert ocean’. However, this water is too salty to drink or even to be desalinized. Using some clever filtration, however, Israeli engineers are able to make the water the perfect environment for salt water fish, such as sea bream. Israeli fishermen have left their boats in the Mediterranean and instead now fish in the desert. The fisheries use hundreds of large round tanks to grow tens of thousands of fish miles away from the sea. They are also recycling the water meaning they use far less water per fish than previous farming methods and the fish waste is also put to good use as fertilizer for flourishing olive groves.
Speaking of waste, Israel also happens to be a world leader when it comes to recycling waste water. Israeli waste water is treated to a high degree, making it suitable for human consumption. However, as you can imagine, not many people want to drink sewage water; no matter how clean it is. Because of this the water is not used as drinking water, but is instead used in agriculture and for land improvement purposes.
Israel is so good at this that it recycles over 80% of its waste water, with the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv recycling 100% of its waste water.
Spain boasts the second largest waste reclamation programme in the world, recycling just 12% of its total waste water, far short of Israel’s truly staggering figures.
Now lets look at one of the most important inventions in recent agricultural history. In the early 1930s, Simcha Blass, an Israeli farmer had his attention drawn to a big tree growing in his backyard “without water”. After digging below the apparently dry surface, Simcha discovered the reason; water was dripping from a leaking pipe causing a small wet area in the soil and enabling water to seep underground to reach the roots of this particular tree but not the others. This sight of tiny drops penetrating the soil causing the growth of a giant tree provided the catalyst for Blass’s invention – drip irrigation.
Blass worked at a farming kibbutz and after years of development he implemented his new system to great success, seeing a crop yield 50% higher than the previous year, and they achieved this using 40% LESS water.
This amazing system has caused Israel’s desert land to flourish. The Arava desert, for example, is called ‘HaAravah’ in Hebrew, which translates to “desolate and dry area”. One of the amazing aspects of the Arava, Israel’s long, eastern valley between the Dead Sea and Eilat, is that although it is mainly desert, 90% of its residents are successful farmers!
It has become known as Israel’s vegetable basket, with more than 65% of Israel’s food exports being grown out of the desert.
In fact, Israel is doing so well with water usage that it has now achieved the unthinkable. A desert nation with a water surplus! And in 2013 it started to export water to Jordan to help Syrian refugees.
Not only is it exporting its water, it is also exporting its ingenuity with drip irrigation technology from Israel being used in over 110 countries worldwide. It helps farmers grow sugar cane in the Philippines, and tea plantations in Tanzania, with India being the largest user of Israel’s drip irrigation systems. That’s right, even our Great British cup of tea has benefited from Israeli water technology.
Water is the most important resource on earth and Israel, by finding solutions to its personal water crisis, has placed itself at the forefront of solving the global water crisis.
We know that Israeli ingenuity is coupled with God’s blessing; “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).
Praise the Lord for His blessings. Let us pray that the world will see the huge benefits Israel has to offer.