Israeli cabinet approves emergency desalination plan

The Israeli cabinet approved on 30 January 2011 an emergency plan to increase the production from the country’s desalination plants and to push expansion to existing plants.

The decision authorizes the desalination plants to produce water throughout the entire day, rather than when lower electricity tariffs are available, and will add 22-27 million m³/year to production. The plants have until 15 March 2011 to comply.

The expansions at Hadera, Ashkelon and Palmachim will create another 70 million m³/year by 2012, while 30 million m³/year will be added to the Sorek plant, now under construction. The total emergency plan is expected to raise Israel’s desalination production to 420 million m³/year in 2013, equal to the annual amount pumped from Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

The situation with regard to the Ashdod desalination plant, where the finance ministry has been demanding water at a lower price than that demanded by the developer, Mekorot, the national water agency, is still not clear. However, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and infrastructure minister Uzi Landau are reported to be in favour of meeting the revised price proposed by Mekorot.