Israeli drought aid swings into action in California

 


Tech companies move forward with tender bidding in California's water districts, promoting stronger policital ties with the US.

As California continues into another summer of drought, Israeli aide to the world's seventh largest economy is finally becoming reality after years of negotiations and agreements with local water authorities, according to David Segel, the Israeli Consul in southern California.

"We signed an agreement with Los Angeles, a city of seven million residents, on the subject of green technologies, we're bringing water specialists from Israel for discussions with legislatures and we're conducting conference calls with experts in Israel," said Segel. "In the next few days we expect to sign an agreement with the municipality of Beverly Hills."

While Israel's water is mostly managed by one administrative company called Mekorot, thousands of small water districts form a complex web of administration in California, meaning that Israel has had to work out the details of separate agreements from across the State before work could begin.

According to Segel, several Israeli technology companies are already on the ground competing for tenders. "We're accelerating the entry of Israeli companies and Israeli products," said the consul. "We're going from district to district. There's a race to find water technology and our presence increases the chance of Israeli companies (having a part in) the fields of recycling, desalinization, and saving water."

The Israeli desalination company IDE has been awarded the tender for the operation of the largest desalination facility in the Western hemisphere, to begin operation starting this fall in southern California, and supply 10% of San Diego's water consumption. Santa Barbara is also planned to sign a cooperation agreement with the Israeli company.

The presence of Israeli companies in local environments brings additional benefits in the realm of politics and international relations as well.

"This is a rare opportunity to strengthen ties with members of congress not only in Washington, but in their homes," said Segel.

"American citizens aren't interested in the Middle East, but they are interested in safety, cyber, energy, water, farming, and health. State governors come to Israel and find economic opportunity. The path is to connect to America in 50 states with 50 governors in areas that Israel can help them so that Americans will understand Israel's importance in everyday life."

Besides desalinization, one of the main technologies that Israel has been trying to introduce in California is known as "gray water" - water from showers, sinks, and washing machines - that is diverted in Israel to water gardens and parks. While there has been resistance in the US to this initiative in the past, new legislation has opened doors for Israeli companies with this technology to take hold and develop.

After years during which the Sea of Galilee remained threateningly empty, Israel became a world leader in recycling water. Some 90% of farming water in Israel is recycled water while California's farms use mainly clean water suitable for drinking.

Some 40 million Americans call California home, and the state is currently struggling through its worst drought in recorded history. Officials are in hysterics over the sudden water crisis and California's Governor Jerry Brown ordered that residents and small business owners cut back on water usage by 25%. Those who are judged to be wasting water unnecessarily now face fines that can reach up to $10,000.

While residents are quickly tearing out the green grass from their front lawns for synthetics and drought resistant plants, the future of California's massive parks and golf courses that rely on heavy watering are less certain. All of America is worried, and not only for California's grass.

The state grows more than a third of America's vegetables and two thirds of the country's fruit and nuts. For most American's, and indeed for many around the world, the persistent drought means a severe rise in food prices.

 Source: Ynet News
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