Accusations fly in Israeli desalination chaos

Chaos still reigns in Israel over the Ashdod desalination plant, which is now the subject of accusations from the national water company Mekorot against losing tenderers Shikun u’Binui (SKBN) and Global Environmental Services (GES).

Mekorot subsidiary subsidiary Mekorot Development & Enterprise awarded the turnkey contract for Ashdod to the IVM joint venture of Minrav Holdings Ltd and Spain’s SADYT, in November 2009. However, construction of the Ashdod plant has since been frozen because Mekorot will not meet the price of desalinated water demanded by the inter-ministerial tenders committee.

According to the Globes agency on 23 January 2011, Mekorot has accused its two rival bidders of actively blocking its desalination plant in order to pressure the government to increase purchases of water from their desalination plants at Hadera and Palmachim. The charges came in defence of a claim by BGS, in which SKBN and GES are partners, against the tender result.

The Jerusalem Post reported on 20 January 2011 that infrastructure minister Uzi Landau had written to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu imploring him to order the accountant general to start increasing the output of existing desalination plants so that extra water would arrive by 2012. This is part of an emergency water plan that still has to be considered by the Israeli cabinet.