by Seth M. Siegel
Reviewed by Stan Klemanowicz
Is there a land where 60% of the land is desert and 40% arid – a place so self-sufficient in water it can export water to its neighbors. A land that exports fruit, vegetables, and agricultural products that are known internationally for quality? There is and it is not California. Not yet!
At the recent Los Angeles Business Council 10th Anniversary Sustainablity Summit Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board, highlighted Let There Be Water in her presentation on the challenges facing California. Let There Be Water tells the story of how Israel challenged water shortages familiar to every Californian and became the world leader in water sustainability. Let There Be Water is the history of Israel.
Years before Israel was founded as a nation, bold steps were taken to secure adequate water supplies for the future. A vision of turning a desert to farmland had to become reality for the nascent state to be sustained. Defying impossible odds – inhospitable environment, politics, wars, cost, limited labor, and difficult working conditions – Israel created a water secure society. Their story of turning insurmountable obstacles into opportunities is found in the water conservation methodologies now used worldwide.
Drip irrigation, delivering precise quantities of water to the right place and at the right time has revolutionized agriculture and is now common throughout the world, was developed in Israel. . Desalination was envisioned to provide pure water early after the nation was founded.With development of key technologies, Israeli engineers made the process affordable – creating an abundant new source of water. Reuse of water from sewage, ‘black’ water, was pioneered in Israel. Overcoming concerns of using treated waste water on food plants due to contamination from bacteria and chemicals, today almost all water from sewage is used for irrigation. Cloud seeding provides rain that fills the Jordan River and Dead Sea. And, more….
Most importantly, Let there Be Water outlines the creation of a culture where water conservation is learned early in life and defines the national identity. Water is taught as a finite resource. With limited resources Israel has become the world’s leader in water saving technologies. California has much to learn.