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15 November 2010

Arid Israel recycles waste water on grand scale

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Due to water scarcity in the region, Israel has become a global leader in water reuse technologies; more than 80 percent of household waste water is recycled

Thirty years ago, Israeli farmers faced a daunting choice - find a new water source or go under. Their solution was waste water recycling. Now climate change is presenting other nations with a similar choice.

With increased interest worldwide, Israel is marketing its waste water reuse technologies and has developed a billion-dollar industry by sharing systems and expertise.

Israel began confronting water scarcity when its main sources, the Sea of Galilee and two aquifers, became overtaxed and the population was growing. There was simply not enough water for agriculture.

"We had to adapt, and found what at the time was an unlikely solution," said farmer Yaron Rot, who manages irrigation at Kibbutz Magen, an agricultural community in southern Israel.

They began irrigating their fields with recycled waste water from the drains of Tel Aviv.

At the time it was not discussed openly. Water treatment technology was not well-known and authorities feared the public would reject the idea of toilet water being used to grow food.


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