As I recently traveled to Israel for the 2015 Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition (WATEC), I couldn’t help but feel the ancient history that defines so much of this country. How ironic that my travels were focused on visiting Israel to be enriched not by the past, but to map out our future… to be enriched by a world leader in cutting-edge water technology!
If you believe in necessity being the mother of invention, then Israel leading the way in water conservation, reuse, purification and, yes, creation, makes perfect sense. The country is 50% desert. Droughts are frequent, and its natural water sources are highly limited. In the face of this necessity, Israel has done remarkable things… things that countries worldwide – including the United States – are benefitting from.
Taking accurate words from some of my fellow WATEC participants, Israel is “an oasis of water technologies” and “the superpower of water.” I agree wholeheartedly, so much so that I personally am looking to Israeli water technologies to discover the next big thing we can bring to the U.S. to impact millions of lives. And I am not alone; leading water activists from Asia, Africa, North and South America are right there with me.
Indeed, the innovations and technology at WATEC are extremely exciting, and I will give some examples shortly. But equally exciting – indeed energizing and inspiring – is the spirit of collaboration that permeates the conference. WATEC isn’t about Israel staking claim as the first, biggest, or best in water solutions. It is about coming in with open minds and countries working together to solve major water problems. It is about crossing oceans and borders to protect and expand water resources. You’d really be hard pressed to find any “big egos” in these collaborations – the overriding dynamic is to not waste time and resources by reinventing someone else’s wheel and, instead, to get the jobs done.
As for some of those technologies and collaborations with Israel happening around the world, here are a few that stand out to me:
- San Diego: Desalination utilizing Israel’s reverse-osmosis technology that potentially could save Californians 54 million gallons of water a day
- Arizona: Sharing very similar climates, Arizona looks to adopt several of Israel’s solutions
- Kenya: With 96% of the nation’s water not being used, Kenya looks to Israel’s drip irrigation to boost agriculture.
- Australia: Using TaKaDu’s real-time water pattern reporting to detect leaks has saved the city of Melbourne enough water to fill 1,100 Olympic-sized pools, resulting in approximately $5,000 per day of savings.
And finally, another irony. In the country that thousands of years ago was the home of the storied miracle of turning water into wine, Israel has innovated something better: technology that turns air into water! This Water-Gen process can “create” anywhere from 10-20 gallons of water per day out of “thin air” and is being used to help assure military troops have pure, potable water anywhere.
In the water industry, like all others, the entrepreneurial spirit is what drives progress. There was plenty of that to be found at WATEC, and in countries around the world – now collaboration is key to discovering, implementing and “changing the game” in the global water arena.