Tips for the West: 5 ways Israel addresses water shortages

From recycling over 80% of its water to literally creating water out of thin air, Israel leads the way in innovation. Here are five things Israel does that the dry Western states might learn from.

Israel has faced its fair share of drought and water shortage. Over the years, Israel has had to develop technologies and methods that preserve, conserve and protect its water supply in the arid Middle East.  Israel’s innovative water management strategies benefit its people while also conserving a valuable resource.

Perhaps the Western states that are struggling with drought can learn from Israel’s experiences and technologies.   In fact, in 2015, The Arizona Republic and Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute appeared to come to the same conclusion, hosting a 2-day event featuring Israeli water expert Miriam “Miki” Haran.  The Republic noted:

Israel’s natural surface and groundwater sources provide less than 1 million acre-feet of water per year – or only about half of the nation’s requirement. That supply is several times smaller than what fewer than 7 million Arizonans use, and yet Israel must supply 8 million people.

Five ways Israel manages its short water supply.

Here are some “water smart” things that Israel does:

1.  Recycling.

Over 80% of water in Israel is reused. Wastewater is filtered and reused in water plants – such as in the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant.

2.  Drip irrigation.

Did you know that drip irrigation technology was developed in Israel?  It’s an effective way to water agricultural crops while also conserving water.  Drip irrigation waters plants at their roots, avoiding water evaporation, creating food production and water security.

3.  Desalination.

Desalination is the process of converting seawater to drinking water.  Israel is a leading force in desalination, with the Sorek plant being the largest seawater desalination facility in the world.

4.  River rehabilitation.

Israelis believe that it’s important to take care of what it has, which is why cleaning contaminated rivers from waste or pollution is an important strategy.  Cleanup efforts include physically and chemically treating the water, as well as filtering the contamination.

5.  Creating water out of thin air.

You would think it’s impossible to create water from thin air. Not true! Watergen is an Israeli company that extracts drinking water from air by converting and filtering it via a special machine. Watergen has recently installed a generator at the Hard Rock community of the Navajo Nation in Arizona.  The Times of Israel reports that the Watergen project “aims to address a critical drinking water shortage within Hard Rock community where nearly 10,000 families across Navajo Nation lack access to running water.”  According to The Times, “The Watergen GEN-M generators produce up to 211 gallons (800 liters) of purified drinking water per day, depending on climate conditions. The Israeli startup will monitor the project’s effectiveness in the Hard Rock Community and evaluate whether it can be replicated elsewhere within the Navajo Nation.”


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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1 year ago

Perhaps the west can learn from Israel. Number 5 – creating water out of thin air is interesting. The Watergen technology purify’s the air with filters, sucks it in, chills it, and then extracts the humidity. That is fascinating.
I’m curious to see the technology that will continue to be created, and used in the future to help with water shortage.

1 year ago
Reply to  Deborah

Oh, I’d be very interested to see this if you go.

1 year ago

Each of the methods above are wonderful, but the Watergen thing blows my mind. Finding out that Israel recycles water at 80% is astounding to me as well. I continue to read about hope and solutions regarding the water crisis and I look forward to continuing to do so.

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