Israel to join top ten water stressed by 2040

The US-based World Resources Institute has forecast that Israel will be among the world’s ten most water stressed regions by 2040. Almost half of those regions will be in the Middle East according to recent report by the institute.

The institute said 14 of the 33 countries and regions likely to be most waterstressed by the year 2040 are in the Middle East, 
with Israel in eighth position on the list.

Growing populations and emerging middle classes, were the driving forces behind a “surge” in demand over the coming decade according to the institute.

Five Middle Eastern states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority – as well as San Marino and Singapore were equally ranked first in the index.

Saudia Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Jordan followed close behind Israel.

More than half of Israel’s water comes from man-made resources, such as desalination and sewage recycling. This, according to Israel’s Water Authority, has enabled it to reduce its use of natural fresh water resources.

Desalination is expected to account for about 600 million m³ of the country’s annual 2.1 billion m³ water supply following the opening later this year of an additional plant at Ashdod. Treated wastewater accounts for a similar amount of the water supply. A report in the Jerusalem Post, said Israel led the world in reclaiming wastewater, with 85% of its sewage treated and most of it reused for watering agricultural fields.

The water-stress rankings were based on World Resources Institute researchers’ projections for 167 countries in 2020, 2030 and 2040. The data came from the organization’s June 2015 Aqueduct Water Stress Projections.

The index authors described the Middle East as “already arguably the least water- secure [region] in the world.” and forecast still greater challenges in the coming decades. They acknowledged that water was arguably less significant to the region compared to current violent unrest there they proposed that water shortages were likely contributors to unrest in Syria – forcing farmers to move to urban areas and destabilize the region.

Israel’s Water Authority spokesman, Uri Schor, told the Jerusalem Post: “The Water Authority recognizes the predictions that our region is encountering a trend of decreasing water resources, primarily because of climate change.” He said the region must optimize its water use, as well as adopt a variety of technological solutions, he added.

On Palestine’s water tensions Schor was optimistic: 
”In the past, the water shortage has been a pretext for war,” he said. “Today, in our region, like throughout the world, the subject of developing new water sources can serve as a bridge for peace.”
Israel is obliged under the Oslo Accords to provide the Palestine Authority with 31 million m³/y and at the end of 2013 it was supplying 52 million m³/y the authority claimed.