In about two years' time, Israel water company, Mekorot, intends to unveil a new National Water Carrier that will rely chiefly on desalinated water from plants along Israel's coast. The water in the Carrier will flow from west to east – and then north and south – thus bringing about "a revolution in the direction in which water is supplied in Israel," Mekorot Chairman Alex Vijneitzer said Thursday.
The original National Water Carrier – a network of canals and pipelines – currently carries water from the Sea of Galilee in Israel's north to central and southern Israel. The Carrier was completed in 1964.
Israel has relied increasingly on desalination plants, as the Sea of Galilee's water level have dropped ever lower. Recent drought years brought the water to emergency levels and Israel's Water Authority conducted a high profile advertising campaign in an attempt to get Israelis to conserve water.
Vijneitzer spoke Thursday at the signing ceremony of a franchise agreement for the Ashdod desalination project with Mekorot subsidiary Mekorot Development & Enterprise, which will plan, build and operate the plant. The Ashdod plant – Israel's fifth – is expected to produce 100 million cubic meters per year, constituting approximately 15% of Israel's domestic water consumption.
Vijneitzer promised that "Mekorot will invest every effort in building the plant in the record time of two years." The water sector's reliance on desalinated water "will also enable the rehabilitation of Israel's natural water reserves," he said.
The plant, which will be based on the reverse osmosis method, joins desalination plants in Ashkelon (120 million cubic meters), Palmachim (45 million cubic meters), Hadera (127 million cubic meters) and Sorek, which will also begin supplying water in 2013. As of the end of 2013, the five plants are expected to produce around 540 million cubic meters, constituting around 75% of the domestic water consumption.