“Give the plant everything it needs, but not one drop more.” This was said to me in a conversation with a representative of an Israeli company that traced its roots to the development of drip irrigation over 50 years ago. That quote has stuck with me because of the practical mindset it represents: Use water, but no more than needed. 

Israel is one of the most impressive countries in the world when it comes to water management. A semiarid and arid country with limited freshwater supplies and regions with brackish groundwater, it nevertheless exports water to its neighbors. How is this possible? First, Israel recycles and reuses over 80 percent of its wastewater for irrigation. Second, it has established five large desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast since 2005 that will soon supply over 80 percent of its domestic and industrial use. Third, the country is traversed by immense and highly efficient water conveyance and delivery systems. 

In our cover story, we highlight one of Israel’s most impressive recent water supply projects: the fifth pipeline to Jerusalem. Micky Elisha, who manages the project for Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, tells us about how this 40-mile-long, pressurized, large-diameter pipeline was conceived of and constructed. 

We also interview Giora Shaham, the director general of the Israel Water Authority, the interagency body set up in 2007 to coordinate Israel’s water policy, about the most distinctive aspects of Israel’s plans for its future supply. 

We also feature a number of impressive and innovative Israeli water and wastewater companies. Triple-T has created TAYA, a reliable, mechanically simple earth-dug wastewater treatment reactor that is ideal for decentralized treatment in suburban and exurban communities. Kando has created a software platform that can identify and track pollution events within a wastewater collection system before they reach the treatment plant, helping municipalities reduce the strain on their reactors. Ayala has developed the Natural Biological System, an artificial wetland– type installation that can treat wastewater for major urban centers using only gravity and natural elements like aquatic plants. Mapal has built floating fine bubble aerators that can easily be placed into—or removed from—wastewater treatment reactors and lagoons. And finally, Aqwise helps design and construct mobile bed bioreactors using its proprietary carriers. 

Israel’s impressive achievements in water technology and management are why we have chosen the country for our next water education and trade tour, scheduled for summer 2021. A special tour preview section in this issue shows what you have to look forward to. I guarantee that by the end of this issue, you will find Israel just as impressive as I do—and will be curious to see the country in person. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.