Recycled sewage water powering fresh produce in Israel

If you ask the average person, he is likely to think that the used water from households in major cities flows right into the ocean. Most would be surprised to know that water isn’t dumped at all, but has a rather useful second life. Water from dishwashers, washing machines, showers, and toilets in the major cities in Israel’s central region is being passed through a sophisticated system of pipes and pools which clean it and then direct it straight to agricultural operations in the southern part of the country.

The project started in the late 1980’s to combat the pollution of Israel’s beaches, and has since benefited from countless technological innovations which have allowed up to 70% of the sewage water to be cleaned to a level where it can be reused. In fact, the water is cleaned so thoroughly that it passes as safe for drinking, though due to psychological and unexpected health effects it is used for irrigation exclusively.

The high quality of the water produced in the cleaning process makes it a viable resource for just about any crop, with the majority currently being used to grow vegetables, citrus, and other fruits grown in orchards. Adding to the value of the project is the fact that the water is directed to the southern part of the country, which is dry and lacks natural water sources. That has enabled a boom in that area which has resulted in more production as well as the conservation of precious drinking water resources.

The success of the project has not remained a secret, and has attracted interest from countries worldwide that are dealing with water shortages and looking for innovative solutions. Along with the success of other similar water conservation projects in the country, Israel has become one of the global leaders of research and development in the area of water recycling.

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