Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
ISRAELíS WATER PROBLEMS - 2008
by Emanuel A. Winston,
Freeman Center Mid East Commentator & Analyst
Binyamin Ben Eliezer, a not terribly bright politician, has offered various solutions for what is likely to be a water crisis for all of Israel - for a long time to come.
Ben Eliezer wants to build more water desalination plants, apparently to offset his Partyís famous plans to abandon the Golan Heights which is one of Israelís principal water sources.
But, Eliezer may not have taken into account the raw sewage sabotage that the Palestinians are implementing by letting untreated sewage run into the sea from Gaza. The prevailing currents push the sewage North, contaminating Israelís coastal areas where more than 70% of Israelís population and Israelís main industrial base in centered.
Once the contamination levels of human feces and chemicals reach a certain level of density (PPM = Parts Per Million), any desalination plant will be closed down. Their filter membranes would clog and the disease-laden water would simply flow through. One doesnít expect Israelís Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or his Leftist Party Coalition (Kadima, Labor and Meretz) to do anything to stop the sewage flow.
Then there is the matter of gifting Jordan with the Millions of Cubic Meters of water as Israelís singularly most famous gesture of good will. Israeli leadership is full of such "gestures" - among other foul-smelling substances.
Israelís so-called "Leadership" is gesturing away the Jewish nation into a permanent, ever worsening state of drought. Have you ever spoken to Israelís so-called "Leadership"? Outside of dirty politics, where they are superb, in practical things they are dumb as a stump.
Water futures? "not to worry". Pollution? "not to worry". Terrorist growth? "not to worry". Loss of the water protected from Israelís Golan Heights? - "not to worry". Loss of the aquifers under the Israeli mountains of Judea and Samaria? - "not to worry". Sewage contamination? - "not to worry". Why worry when the Members of the Knesset have plenty of food and filtered water in the Knesset dining room? Reality simply doesnít enter those rooms the lazy, craven Leftist Knesset Members think are hallowed.
As for Prime Ministers, the words "dumb" or "stupid" doesnít even approach describing their incompetence and corrupt nature. The most recent Prime Ministers are killing the country and, after they have succeeded in despoiling the nation, they will try to escape and live on the loot they scavenged from the Peoplesí Treasury.
WHAT TO DO?
First: Cut off water and fuel supplies to Gaza until they build sewage treatment plants sufficiently large enough to treat sewage to the highest level technology allows.
Get rid of incompetent leaders and make them take educational tests to determine if they are fit to hold any post in government (like the psychometric tests Israeli students must take to attend university).
Start building more desalination plants - which should have started 20 years ago.
Cut the water being delivered free to Jordan.
Dig a channel from the Haifa area down to the Jordan Valley. This channel is to parallel the Jordan River and NOT mix salt water with fresh water. (Note! I offered such a water plan to Israel more than 25 years ago - which contemplated hydroelectric power, desalination plants, modification of the moisture content in the Jordan Valley for improved cropsí production and sea water lakes for recreation and fishing.
But, there were people then in power - like Ben Eliezer, who simply had zero vision and an inability to process information. As they say, those chickens have come home to roost.
Drought is endemic in the Middle East. Biblical records speak of 7 year droughts - as in Egypt - but, in fact, droughts of 50 to 100 years have been recorded in core borings of land. However, when you are a politician and reasonably stupid, you talk about solutions (to raise your public image) but do nothing to implement them or something too little to be effective.
Experts in hydrology, water conservation and recycling of waste water have been alerting successive governments about serious water shortages, pollution and contamination for years but they have been ignored.
How can you expect politicians who have never worked a day in their lives (other than to hustle the Peoplesí money into their own pockets) be expected to deal with down-to-earth critical issues like water, national security, resettling 10,000 Jewish men, women and children they uprooted, etc. when they could not even run a small vegetable stand in Machane Yehuda (the local outdoor market)? This is not a trivial matter, given that droughts can last 50 or more years across the Africa/Asian Middle East, much of which is in an advanced stage of desertification. This is before the forecast effects of climate change due to measurable global warming.
Martin Sherman, for example, has written in great detail about Israelís water shortages for years - to no avail. Israel desperately needs a highly intelligent government of problem solvers. She cannot survive on government planning shown to be dedicated to graft, corruption by crooks whose first morning thought is how to stay in power and fill their own pockets.
Appropo - the international space stationís single toilet has malfunctioned and the U.S. will now pay Russia $30 million dollars to send up a space craft with a new Russian toilet. Can you imagine what will happen in Israel when, because of a water shortage, your household will be allowed to flush only once a day (or once a week)? Those are simple practical matters which inept government like the current one run by the Kadima/Labor Parties cannot grasp or deal with.
Following is a deeper analysis from a paper I published in 1992:
WATER - 274 April 7, 1992 by Emanuel A. Winston, a Middle East analyst and commentator
Israel has been given a brief reprieve from a critical water shortage. The unlikely once in a century snow and rain cannot be depended upon in future winters.
Let us suggest that this one year be used as breathing space to develop alternate water sources on an emergency basis. There are a few available sources that can be developed. For example:
While waiting to build the necessary but very expensive salt water desalination plants, let us capture more of the run-off that flows into the Mediterranean and is lost. More valleys can be dammed up in lakes and their bottoms sealed to stem seepage and catch surface runoff.
There is another perhaps greater run-off of lost fresh water. Irreplacable aquifers deep under the earth\'s surface also stretch out under the Mediterranean. Some aquifers are close to the sea floor surface near the point where the continental land mass meets the sea.
Although much of the flow continues to remain trapped in the rock formations beneath the sea basin, a great deal escapes into the salt water of the Mediterranean.
Those off-shore fresh water springs can be drilled, capped and piped. We will only be taking the fresh water which has already escaped the aquifers directly under the land mass of Israel. As many know, we have been depleting those land-based aquifers by excessive pumping. This creates negative pressure, allowing salt water to invade the aquifer, making the aquifer itself and the wells it feeds unusable and often unrecoverable.
Taking fresh water from off-shore points will increase available supplies and allow us to possibly decrease our on-shore pumpage.
Locating fresh water undersea springs is no problem for the senisitive instruments of today which can distinguish levels of comparitive salinity. Where the fresh water does not come to the surface of the sea floor, we can drill, again using techniques developed for drilling shallow oil wells.
There are other methods: The plan suggested by Laudermilk, the founder of Israel\'s present water system, suggested a pipe from the Haifa area to carry Mediterranean Sea water through the Jezreel Valley directly into the Jordan River and on to the Dead Sea. (No doubt, he intended to separate sea water from fresh water.)
Topographic maps show a drop between the Mediterranean in the Haifa area and the Dead Sea. There is a slight earth bridge of several meters which can be easily breached. I believe that a diversion of Meditteranean water with its relatively low salt content can be extremely beneficial in a new water system. It would entail building a concrete tunnel through the Jezreel valley between the sea and the Jordan valley. The salt water would be contained except where it was diverted for special uses.
The following outlines the general plan. It is intended to provoke the scientific reader into adding his own components, both technical and conceptual.
1. The basic inlet would extend into the sea sufficently far to ensure an uncomtaminated supply of sea water.
2. The water carrier on land could be in an open trough or closed pipe.
3. Whenever there is sufficient slope a section of closed, large diameter pipe would be laid. This section would contain a low incline power generator (possibly an Archimedes Screw). Generator stations would be positioned at certain locations along the pipe. The fall-off from the Mediterranean sea level to the Jordan Valley is sufficient to run these generators.
4. Other sections of the water carrier would have passive desalinization capability. Given the constant sun and high temperatures of the Jordan Valley, passive evaporation can be used in de-salinization of the sea water. This section would be covered with a transparent fiberglass dome. The water flowing in this section would be kept shallow in order to enable the sun to heat the water and accelerate the evaporation. Water would condense on the dome, drip into collection troughs and flow into storage tanks. Perhaps "water farms" could be designed in which the canal water would be allowed to spread to a very shallow depth over an area of many dunams. Solar reflectors could be designed to enhance the evaporation rate of the water onto the condenser domes that would cover the entire area only several centimeters over the water.
5. Using a mix of low-incline generators plus electrical generating sea-water, we can run membrane filtered desalinization plants along the water carrier.
6. Finally, the remaining water would flow into the Dead Sea thus ensuring the future of both the industrial operations and the tourism that the area attracts.
Regarding the current water crisis, I reprint another article I published in December 1998, http://www.freeman.org/m_online/dec98/winston1.htm
ISRAEL\'S LOOMING WATER CRISIS By Emanuel A. Winston - December 1998
Be prepared for the Israel government and American Administration to throw a smoke screen over Israel\'s soon-to-be-lost water. As part of the Wye "River" fiasco, Israel\'s leaders have finalized her commitment to give away her irreplaceable underground rivers. Arik Sharon, now Foreign Minister, will soon be visiting Washington, there to discuss, among other things, some of the bribes Israel is to receive for caving in on the Wye Agreement. One of those bribes is to be the construction of a desalination plant, presumably to relieve Israel\'s coming water shortage. This shortfall will become acute as she transfers control of the aquifers under the Judean/Samarian hills - representing approximately 30% of Israel\'s fresh water resource.
Since ONE desalination plant cannot possibly produce even a fraction of the lost water, it can now only serve as a political curtain to hide the consummate stupidity of Israel\'s three successive Governments, namely: Labor/Meretz under Rabin and secondly Peres and now Likud under Netanyahu. I mention these names so the readers may forever mark those responsible for the drying up of Israel.
So, what is wrong with turning sea water into drinking water? Absolutely nothing, IF like Saudi Arabia, you have unlimited billions of dollars to build the "many" plants needed and free fuel to power the high energy needs of such plants. Even California couldn\'t do it with money and fuel from their own pumped oil. Saudi Arabia had the money and the excess natural gas to literally burn from its vast oil deposits but Israel is not blessed with such reserves.
So, what\'s the problem? A really big plant can range in cost from $3-5 Billion dollars and that\'s only to build. Then it needs a huge amount of electrical power. In Israel\'s case, that would likely require either a vast expansion of present power plants - more coal and/or nuclear - or construction of new electrical plants. Here one has the problem of additional Billions in cost to construct, the continuous maintenance costs to produce the power, the polluting fuel (coal or nuclear) and finally the cost per cubic meter of water which will be so high that it will require government subsidies which then comes back in increased taxes.
So, whether it\'s paid with the water bill or paid from other tax revenues...the people still pay the enormous increase. And that, dear readers, does not solve the problem of losing 30% of Israel\'s water. I have the feeling that one could line the shores of the Mediterranean with such plants in order to make up the shortfall of 30%. But, that\'s not all. Presently, our erstwhile leaders are under pressure from our good friends Madame Albright in cahoots with the EU to give up the Golan Heights to Syria.
So, what\'s wrong that? Besides having primitive leaders in Syria who are armed to the teeth with chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them, we again have the problem of water. Israel water resources from the Golan represents 40% of its total water supply. If you couple the 30% being given to Arafat with the 40% to be given to Syria that makes a nice round figure of 70%. But wait...Israeli or American politicians can be expected to jump in to tell you that they will arrange an agreement where, at a fixed price, the Palestinians will sell Israel this water with various guarantees. Certainly our erstwhile Jewish leaders will jump at the chance of accepting more guarantees because Oslo I and II, Hebron and Wye worked out so well.
Today, with the water from the Judean/Samarian aquifers and the waters from the Golan and a rapidly diminishing central aquifer Israel is pushing the envelope of its growing water needs. If Israel lost even 5% of current water resources, certain industries would be closed or rationed. If it went beyond that, civilian rationing would begin with a vengeance. Some may recall a brief drought several years back where the level of the Kinneret (Israel\'s northern reservoir) fell 5 meters.
The government and the people were beginning to panic as the seculars began to urge to Rabbis to pray for rain. Well, finally the rains came and just in time. Mostly due to a volcanic eruption in the Philippines which spewed forth particulate matter in a plume which drifted over Israel causing a weather change resulting in what was called "Century Rains". However, just as an unexpected quirk of nature (HaShem) caused the rains, other such quirks caused drought. The African continent is undergoing such a drought and a process called desertification is ongoing and expanding rapidly.
Israel is part of the African continent. Droughts of Biblical proportions lasting years are not unknown in this region of the world. Therefore, if one factors in drought; giving away of 70% of her water resources; increased population along with increased water consumption, the inadequate but costly desalination solution - Israel would dry up to a small, burnt out cinder in the next decade. One can hardly wait for Bibi and Arik to drink a water toast with Clinton/Albright/Arafat and Assad over the new miracle of creating water where there is very little.
And then there is the sewage. We are giving the Palestinians clean water and getting their sewage back, just as is presently happening in Gaza. They pour untreated sewage into the wadis and streams, polluting the shrinking water table. The Palestinians ruined the Gaza aquifer in 2 short years as they sunk 2000 wells. This over-pumping lowered the water table, allowing the sea water to seep in. In Gaza they now drink what they call "salt tea". The Gaza aquifer is unrecoverable.
If Israel gives up control of the Judean/Samarian water resources (30%) and possible the 40% under the Golan Heights to Syria, the foreseeable over-pumping will lower the water-table of Israel\'s only remaining aquifer on the coast and the Mediterranean will invade the sweet water. Everything that Israel made bloom will wither and die - along with the State of Israel herself.
Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East analyst & commentator and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.