ISRAEL'S LOOMING WATER CRISIS

By Emanuel A. Winston

Be prepared for the Israel government and American Administration to throw a smoke screen over Israel's soon-to-be-lost water. As part of the Wye "River" fiasco, Israel's leaders have finalized her commitment to give away her irreplaceable underground rivers. Arik Sharon, now Foreign Minister, will soon be visiting Washington, there to discuss, among other things, some of the bribes Israel is to receive for caving in on the Wye Agreement. One of those bribes is to be the construction of a desalination plant, presumably to relieve Israel's coming water shortage. This shortfall will become acute as she transfers control of the aquifers under the Judean/Samarian hills - representing approximately 30% of Israel's fresh water resource.

Since ONE desalination plant cannot possibly produce even a fraction of the lost water, it can now only serve as a political curtain to hide the consummate stupidity of Israel's three successive Governments, namely: Labor/Meretz under Rabin and secondly Peres and now Likud under Netanyahu. I mention these names so the readers may forever mark those responsible for the drying up of Israel.

So, what is wrong with turning sea water into drinking water? Absolutely nothing, IF like Saudi Arabia, you have unlimited billions of dollars to build the "many" plants needed and free fuel to power the high energy needs of such plants. Even California couldn't do it with money and fuel from their own pumped oil. Saudi Arabia had the money and the excess natural gas to literally burn from its vast oil deposits but Israel is not blessed with such reserves.

So, what's the problem? A really big plant can range in cost from $3-5 Billion dollars and that's only to build. Then it needs a huge amount of electrical power. In Israel's case, that would likely require either a vast expansion of present power plants - more coal and/or nuclear - or construction of new electrical plants. Here one has the problem of additional Billions in cost to construct, the continuous maintenance costs to produce the power, the polluting fuel (coal or nuclear) and finally the cost per cubic meter of water which will be so high that it will require government subsidies which then comes back in increased taxes.

So, whether it's paid with the water bill or paid from other tax revenues...the people still pay the enormous increase. And that, dear readers, does not solve the problem of losing 30% of Israel's water. I have the feeling that one could line the shores of the Mediterranean with such plants in order to make up the shortfall of 30%. But, that's not all. Presently, our erstwhile leaders are under pressure from our good friends Madame Albright in cahoots with the EU to give up the Golan Heights to Syria.

So, what's wrong that? Besides having primitive leaders in Syria who are armed to the teeth with chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them, we again have the problem of water. Israel water resources from the Golan represents 40% of its total water supply. If you couple the 30% being given to Arafat with the 40% to be given to Syria that makes a nice round figure of 70%. But wait...Israeli or American politicians can be expected to jump in to tell you that they will arrange an agreement where, at a fixed price, the Palestinians will sell Israel this water with various guarantees. Certainly our erstwhile Jewish leaders will jump at the chance of accepting more guarantees because Oslo I and II, Hebron and Wye worked out so well.

Today, with the water from the Judean/Samarian aquifers and the waters from the Golan and a rapidly diminishing central aquifer Israel is pushing the envelope of its growing water needs. If Israel lost even 5% of current water resources, certain industries would be closed or rationed. If it went beyond that, civilian rationing would begin with a vengeance. Some may recall a brief drought several years back where the level of the Kinneret (Israel's northern reservoir) fell 5 meters.

The government and the people were beginning to panic as the seculars began to urge to Rabbis to pray for rain. Well, finally the rains came and just in time. Mostly due to a volcanic eruption in the Philippines which spewed forth particulate matter in a plume which drifted over Israel causing a weather change resulting in what was called "Century Rains". However, just as an unexpected quirk of nature (Ha Shem) caused the rains, other such quirks caused drought. The African continent is undergoing such a drought and a process called desertification is ongoing and expanding rapidly.

Israel is part of the African continent. Droughts of Biblical proportions lasting years are not unknown in this region of the world. Therefore, if one factors in drought; giving away of 70% of her water resources; increased population along with increased water consumption, the inadequate but costly desalination solution - Israel would dry up to a small, burnt out cinder in the next decade. One can hardly wait for Bibi and Arik to drink a water toast with Clinton/Albright/Arafat and Assad over the new miracle of creating water where there is very little.

And then there is the sewage. We are giving the Palestinians clean water and getting their sewage back, just as is presently happening in Gaza. They pour untreated sewage into the wadis and streams, polluting the shrinking water table. The Palestinians ruined the Gaza aquifer in 2 short years as they sunk 2000 wells. This over-pumping lowered the water table, allowing the sea water to seep in. In Gaza they now drink what they call "salt tea". The Gaza aquifer is unrecoverable.

If Israel gives up control of the Judean/Samarian water resources (30%) and possible the 40% under the Golan Heights to Syria, the foreseeable over-pumping will lower the water-table of Israel's only remaining aquifer on the coast and the Mediterranean will invade the sweet water. Everything that Israel made bloom will wither and die - along with the State of Israel herself.

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Emanuel A. Winston is a Middle East analyst & commentator and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.


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