Lessons from Israel on recycling water to stem looming shortage

Israel Ambassador to Kenya, Noah Gal Gendler.
Kenya should invest in technology and innovation to solve water shortage which is threatening to explode into a humanitarian crisis.

According to Israel ambassador to Kenya, Noah Gal Gendler (pictured), the country has been losing about 60 per cent of water to leakages and illegal connections.

His observations correspond with a study conducted in 2018 by Water Service Regulation Board (Wasreb) which showed “that up to 54.6 per cent of the water produced does not reach consumers.” “Water Services and Regulatory Board defines levels of none revenue water of under 20 per cent as good, 20-25 as acceptable and over 25 per cent as not acceptable,” the report reads in part.

The study further showed that the bulk of this water, about 36 per cent was lost through metering inaccuracies and theft while 35.9 per cent is of physical losses through leaks.

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The report which sampled nine water service providers in the country attributed the loss to burst pipes, illegal connections, faulty meters, unmetered supply, and water wastage by consumers.

The problem of leaks wastage and water scarcity are not only confined to Kenya as Seth Siegel paints a grim global picture in his masterpiece, Let there Be Water.

Siegel warns of a looming global water crisis, which will climax with unrest in countries where the commodity can no longer be accessible and in less than 10 years lead to state failure. He says: “It is less a matter of if than when and validates this by quoting an intelligence report which is certain this will take place in less than a decade.”

The partially declassified top secret report prepared by US-based National Intelligence Council, warns that the world is entering into a prolonged water crisis and predicts that countries important to the US and global security will be at risk of state failure.

Siegel further warns that although water shortages will not occur everywhere, everybody will be affected and explains that about 1.5 billion people (20 per cent of world population) will be first victims of the world water crisis. The water problem is not a third-world issue because according to the author, world economic powers like China and India are already experiencing shortages that could soon have a major impact on their economies and politics.

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“Depleted water supplies will pose a risk to the US and global food markets which will result in higher prices around the world. This has begun to happen in Brazil. The ability by key countries to produce food and generate energy will transform the world as we know it today.”

The US is also suffering from the problem especially in western states which have reached a tipping point which will affect people’s lifestyles and food prices.

It is estimated the world’s middle-class population by 2020 will have hit 3.25 billion who will demand daily showers, swimming pools green lawns fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers, leading to higher water withdrawal. More energy will be required to power their cars. 

It is not all gloom, for Siegel suggests that the world turns to Israel for solutions where owing to the country’s positioning in the desert, surrounded by hostile neighbours has developed some solutions. The country, where every drop of water whether fresh, used, saline or from the sewer is never to be wasted and technologies have been developed for maximum utilisation.

The world will have to adopt quickly to some of the smart solutions already being applied in Israel where recycled sewerage water is more appreciated than rain because it is more reliable and predictable.

Some of the technologies which can help alleviate the water problem is not by digging dams as Kenya has been doing but by recycling water and using drip for irrigation as well as desalinating sea water.

The scientists have come up with variety of crops such as wheat which have short stalk which will require less water while at the same time employing chips attached to drips will inform the farmer when the plant needs to be watered with precise drip delivered at its root to minimise loss.

Cities around the world should also embrace digital metering and technology to detect leakages. And instead of directing raw sewerage to rivers, lakes and oceans, the author suggests that municipal authorities and county government invest in treatment plants.

The sewage can be used to fight forest fires instead of firefighters throwing away fresh water. 

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Water CrisisStem LoomingIsraelWater Recycling