Desalination for Peace motif for record-breaking EuroMed conference

“I believe that desalination is a key issue in peace,” said Uri Shani, chairman of Israel’s Water Authority, at the opening ceremony of the EuroMed 2010 – Desalination for Clean Water & Energy Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 4 October 2010.

This aspiration became a motif for subsequent contributions, from outside as well as within Israel, both at the opening ceremony and a special regional water session held late the same evening.

The decision of the European Desalination Society to hold its first conference in Israel seems to have been justified by a record attendance of more than 470 delegates from 34 countries. With Veolia Water as major sponsor and 31 companies on display at the accompanying exhibition, this event looks like being EDS’s most successful ever.

Forecasts say Israel is about to enter its seventh year of drought, unprecedented in records that began 90 years ago. Surrounding nations will be similarly affected.

Two Israeli ministers spoke at the opening ceremony, Uzi Landau, minister for infrastructure, and Benjamin Ben Eliezer, minister of industry, trade and labor. Landau told the conference that Israel was now treating 92% of its sewage, of which 75% was being reused. Eliezer said that with a year about 95% of sewage would be recycled for agriculture.

Menachem Priel of the national water agency Mekorot told D&WR later that, while Israel’s investment in desalination was, for now, coming to an ending, a parallel investment in wastewater reuse was just beginning to match the water becoming available from its current desalination programme, which will eventually produce 750 million m³/year.

Shani also surprised delegates by declaring that discussions with the water manager of Sao Paulo, Brazil, had convinced him that the economics of a desalination plant in the city would have been less costly than the infrastructure required to bring surface and groundwater in from the city’s hinterland.