How Reusing Water Sustains Israel’s Agricultural Industry
Israel is a water-scarce country located in a water-scarce region. 78 percent of its arable land is under cultivation, and 50 percent of that land is dependent on irrigation, making water management a top priority.
As with most water-scarce countries, Israel has seen firsthand how efficient irrigation methods and strategic water reuse can help ensure sustainable, reliable agricultural production. Today, Israel’s integrated water resources management system uses the latest water management technologies, such as pressure irrigation systems, automatic and controlled mechanization and high-quality seeds and plants, such as genetically engineered ones that require less water to grow.
Israeli water managers also encourage water conservation and efficient use by all users – especially agricultural users in the country. For example:
- Through a grants allocation system based on actions that ensure the preservation of open spaces, safeguard water sources and natural resources, use agro-mechanical shredders to dispose of plant trimmings or use drip irrigation to decrease evapotranspiration and to conserve water.
- Through financial support made available per farming size unit in areas such as cattle and herd breeding, non-irrigated crops (especially in the most arid areas) and cotton crops grown in specifically restricted land, using the lowest quality reclaimed wastewater.
When it comes to wastewater, Israel regards treated wastewater as a valuable water resource. The country’s water managers have made wastewater treatment and reuse a national objective. For example, they engage and encourage farmers to adopt the use of treated wastewater by exchanging treated wastewater effluent with their regular fresh water allocations. Today, Israel uses treated wastewater for roughly 30 percent of its agricultural water needs.
Quality and quantity concerns mean that fresh water is in short supply. According to a UN report describing Israel’s strategic planning, since the country’s urban sector is expected to grow, it can be expected that the country’s freshwater will be allocated to urban uses. In order to meet its agricultural needs, Israel will need to continue to develop marginal water sources and treated wastewater, and the quality of its wastewater will need to be adapted and upgraded for each use.
CSD-16/17 National Report Israel [PDF]