WE HAVE too much water in this country—a fact I’ve come to terms with after three days of almost-incessant rain in Manila. It’s something we forget: we have easy access to water, unlike, say, our friends in Syria or Ethiopia for whom water is, literally, life-giving.
Israel has just opened a new desalination plant, “the largest reverse-osmosis desal[ination] facility in the world and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. 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.”
The article that appears in the magazine, Scientific American, shows that Israel now has surplus water, thanks to technology. In a conflict-ridden region, this has impact on diplomacy.
Israel supplies the West Bank with water, as required by the 1995 Oslo II Accords, but the Palestinians still receive far less than they need. Water has been entangled with other negotiations in the ill-fated peace process, but now that more is at hand, many observers see the opportunity to depoliticize it. Bar-Zeev has ambitious plans for a Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018, which will bring together water scientists from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of the minds.
We don’t realize that something is of immense value unless we lose it.