by Stephen Smith
“Some people see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask, Why Not?” Robert F. Kennedy
Some more reflections on my recent trip to the Holy Land:
Ashkelon 2005, 108 million cubic meters per year. Palmachim 2007, 30 million cubic meters per year. Hadera 2010, 127 million cubic meters per year. Sorek 2016, 150 cubic meters per year. These are some of the desalinization plants now producing good, fresh clean water in the desert country of Israel. The numbers are impressive. In April of this year, the Energy and Water Minister announced the building of two more desalination plants, in addition to the five plants already producing. Today, 80 percent of Israel’s fresh water needs are supplied by these facilities, up from 55 percent in 2016 and 30 percent in 2013. The estimated cost of the newest of these plants is about $400 million. The balance of their fresh water comes from the Sea of Galilee and Aquifers.
With the development of new technologies in desalinization, low flow toilets, shower heads and drip irrigation, Israel produces more good-tasting fresh water than they need. The Jewish National Fund has planted over 250 million trees, and former deserts have become rich farmlands with bountiful crops of fruits, grains and vegetables. They produce all of their own milk. It has gone far beyond being a land just filled with olives, milk and honey (dates). They are now producing farm-raised fish and crustaceans. If Moses looked down upon the Promised Land from atop Mount Nebo today, he would marvel at the Jewish peoples continuing the act of creation. He might ask, “Does God have a new partner?”
It is now reported that water production at the Sorek plant has become so efficient, that it now costs $20 to $30 less per month for homes in Israel than water piped to many homes here in the Los Angeles County.
Last month’s protests in Palestine were decrying Israel’s 70th anniversary. For Israel’s neighbors, it is called “The Great Catastrophe.” The real great catastrophe is Iraq’s, Syria’s and Jordan’s overdrawn and vanishing aquifers. Syrian crops have dried up and the topsoil is blowing away. Palestine and Jordan have become dependent on drinking water from Israel, which is often only available two days a week. The situation is desperate. Jordan and Israel are planning a new desalinization plant on the Red Sea, which will divide the water between Israel, Jordan and Palestine. Perhaps the only hope for the future in the Middle East will be water diplomacy that is driven by a mutual need for the precious fluid. Israel is planning a “Water Knows No Boundaries” conference, which hopefully will bring all their neighbors together to deal with the eminent disaster of severe water shortages. The loathed Israel has already demonstrated their willingness to help and work with their recalcitrant neighbors.
Unfortunately, here in California, we have lacked the wisdom and foresight demonstrated by the remarkable Israelis. Our leadership seems more committed to taxing us to death, suing the federal government, enhancing their power and control over the people and investing in boondoggles, like the high-speed train to nowhere, than take proven action of building desalinization plants that will turn the Golden State into the productive, efficient paradise we all know that it can be. Imagine the entire central valley green once again. Imagine the Owens Valley returning to it’s natural glory. Imagine California being the breadbasket to the world, leading to the end of starvation worldwide. Imagine California providing water to the deserts of Nevada and Arizona. Imagine the prosperity, wealth and employment that such a great series of projects will create. Imagine protecting the one endangered species we seem to ignore, humanity. A great future is possible if we choose to learn from Israel and embrace it. Draining the swamp of our recalcitrant progressive leadership will be necessary to achieve it. Water sales can pay for it. For our part, we must find and elect representatives who are committed to making California the new Eden.