After nearly a decade of drought, Israel has decided to make its freshwater rather than wait in vain for enough of it to fall from the sky. The Sorek desalination plant opening next month will be the largest facility of its kind in the world. Once it’s operational, Israel’s four desalination plants will be capable of producing 60 percent of the country’s freshwater. There’s speculation that the country will soon see a water surplus, something that was almost unthinkable during the arid 2000s. The Times of Israel reports:
Like Israel’s other plants, Sorek will work through a process called Seawater Reverse Osmosis that removes salt and waste from the Mediterranean’s water. A prefiltration cleansing process clears waste out of the flow before the water enters a series of smaller filters to remove virtually all the salt. After moving through another set of filters that remove boron, the water passes through a limestone filter that adds in minerals. Then, it enters Israel’s water pipes.[Raphael Semiat, a member of the Israel Desalination Society and professor at Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology] says desalination is a virtually harmless process that can help address the water needs prompted by the world’s growing population and rising standard of living.
Water scarcity is going to become an increasingly important strategic interest for countries around the world. It is already figuring into geopolitics in China and spurring innovation in dry places like Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Qatar.Water from desalinization plants comes at a cost; these plants are quite energy-intensive. But the ability to convert energy into freshwater (which is effectively what desalination plants do) gives countries like Israel more flexibility when dealing with this resource scarcity.We hear a lot about how our species is doomed, that we’ve overextended ourselves on a planet that can no longer support us. But today is not nearly as bleak as yesterday’s Malthusians predicted. There’s still plenty of reason to believe the Malthusians will be wrong about tomorrow as well.[Desalination plant image courtesy of Shutterstock]