By Al Shams
“Water is life,” read signs in the early days of Israeli statehood.
We live in a water rich-part of the world, but many of us fail to appreciate the importance of water in our everyday lives. Many parts of the world regularly deal with severe water shortages. Throughout history nations have risen, collapsed and fought wars over water.
The Old West saw many conflicts over access to water and water rights. California has dealt with water shortages through much of its history.
Atlanta has been blessed with abundant water supplies, helping the area’s rapid growth the past 50 years. But big changes are under way.
The past 15 years, Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been embroiled in a tough legal debate over how the resources of the Chattahoochee River should be allocated. Alabama and Florida believe that Georgia, especially the metro area, takes an unfair percentage of the river’s water and thus impairs the growth of their communities.
Regardless of how the contest is resolved, changes will affect Atlanta’s living standards and the economy.
Israel and Water
Because of its location, Israel has always had water issues. And it has developed innovative ways to deal with them. Now Israel is a world leader in water use and water recycling technology.
Some water facts:
- Before 1995, Israel had three water reservoirs; in the next 10 years, 200 were added. There are now 250.
- Desalination was considered too costly, so Israel embraced a massive recycling effort. Now 85 percent of water is reused.
- Over 200 Israeli startups have formed in the water industry the past 10 years.
- Jewish National Fund has made enormous contributions to Israel’s water success.
- Israel shares water technology with the world. Farmers worldwide benefit from the advances.
- Drip irrigation technology is widely used around the world.
- Southern California will soon adopt Israeli water technologies.
- The book “Let There Be Water” tells how Israel became a water superpower.
- Israel’s respect and appreciation for water go back to biblical days when water was equated to life.
- Water has the power to be a pathway for peace in the Middle East.
- From 1962 to 1979, Israel managed Iran’s water industry; today, Iran is running out of water and has one of the world’s worst water systems.
- A U.S. government agency predicts that by 2026, 40 states will face water issues.
Each of us can think of ways in which we can conserve water and be more water wise.
Here are JNF’s 10 Water Commandments:
- Defrost smart — do not use running water to defrost frozen foods.
- Keep a water jug in the refrigerator rather than run the tap to get a cool drink.
- Clean green — wash clothes and dishes only when you have a full load.
- Insulate hot water pipes; you will get hot water faster.
- Water lawns no more often than weekly and always in the morning.
- Use a low-flow shower head.
- Check your toilet for leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. Color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes if there’s a leak.
- Water plants with unused drinking water.
- Conserve electricity to conserve water.
- Compost food waste instead of using a sink garbage disposal, which requires a great deal of water.
Water is involved in virtually everything we do. It is used in great volume to make many products, including steel, oil, paper, glass, plastics, food and semiconductors. I read that it takes 1,200 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. By using other resources wisely, we will be water wise, and vice versa.
Israel will probably never be a major producer of steel, chemicals, cement, ships or autos. There are many other large countries that can produce these products more efficiently.
But Israel is and will continue to be a leader in innovation in water, medicine, computers, cybersecurity and electronics, among many other areas. Israel will continue to deploy its greatest resource, its brainpower, to enhance its standard of living and that of the world.
The power of freedom of thought, innovation, ingenuity and hard work can achieve miracles, such as 8 million people having a huge impact on a world of 7.4 billion.
G-d smiles on Israel.