The inter-ministerial tenders committee for desalination, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, and the Israel Water Authority, has published the pre-qualification tender for planning, financing, constructing, and operating a desalination plant that will supply at least 150 million cubic meters of water a year, to be constructed in the Sorek area.
The new facility, which will be one of the world's largest, will increase the current production of desalinated water in Israel by 25%, thereby helping the water industry cope with the continually worsening state of the country's natural water resources and the decline in rainfall.
Five desalination plants currently operate in Israel: in Ashkelon, Sorek, Hadera, Palmachim, and Ashdod. They supply an aggregate of 585 million cubic meters of water a year, amounting to 70% of the total water consumption in Israel. The tender is part of a plan drawn up by Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz for dealing with the water situation in Israel, which has had five consecutive years of drought.
Under the plan, the water desalination target for 2030 is 1,000 million cubic meters, almost double the current total.
The location of a second desalination facility in the Western Galilee in the coming years was recently approved for the Shraga military base site west of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. Its location has been discussed for years, and was controversial because of opposition by the residents, who proposed other locations, such as Haifa Bay and Akko Bay. The Ministry of Health did not approve these locations because of water pollution.
According to Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu, the inter-ministerial tenders committee highlights the great advantage in cooperation between all of the relevant parties in the government ministries dealing with water desalination in Israel. The committee's composition enables it to carry out efficiently its tasks in promoting the water sector in Israel in accordance with government policy.
Hizkiyahu added that this was another project taking place in cooperation with the private sector, and noted that the government was continuing its promotion of projects utilizing these methods in many types of infrastructure, such as transport, energy, waste disposal, and construction, as part of the Infrastructure 2030 plan aimed at formulating and promoting a strategic infrastructure plan for Israel.
Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources director general Udi Adiri said, "Building desalination plants is part of the overall plan that Steinitz is putting forward to deal with the fifth consecutive year of drought. The desalination plant in Sorek is the first of two we are pushing for immediately that will supply a total of 300 million cubic meters a year. Other parts of the plan include a national campaign to encourage water saving, the possibility of putting desalinated water into Lake Kinneret, and putting natural water into rivers in northern Israel, so that we can restore the days when rivers were naturally full."
Water Authority director general Giora Shaham said, "Although the current drought is extreme, expanding Israel's water desalination capacity is taking place according to a long-term development plan based on Israel's projected water consumption in the coming decades."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 26, 2018
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