Israel to Buy Water from Turkey Next Summer

Published June 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A top-level inter-ministerial Israeli delegation is due in Turkey Monday to assess arrangements for fresh water imports next summer as an emergency measure, reported the Jerusalem Post.  

The country's water reserves are at such dangerously low levels that next summer's supply will be entirely dependent on the amount of rainfall in the coming winter, experts quoted by the Israeli daily warned Sunday.  

No steps have been taken by the government to begin the process of establishing the first major sea-water desalination plant, making the prospect of having to import fresh water almost an inevitability, according to the paper.  

Mekorot director Amos Epstein, who is among the delegates, made it clear that the country is facing a water catastrophe that even cutting quotas for farmers to virtually nothing would not overcome.  

Experts of the national water company estimate that the level of water in Lake Kinneret will drop to at least one meter below the official red-line minimum by the end of the summer - the lowest mark in recorded history, according to the report.  

"Importing water is an emergency solution which could have been prevented if Mekorot had been allowed to issue tenders for the desalination of sea-water," Epstein told the paper.  

He said Mekorot could publish tenders for the establishment of a sea-water desalination plant within a month, especially in light of the experience it had gained from an experimental station which has been operating successfully in Eilat for the past few years.  

"I don't think we need to push the panic button, because we are in situation which is simply catastrophic," Epstein told Israel Radio Sunday.  

"If we don't immediately begin to deal with the possibility of importing water or any other alternative solution, we face the kind of crisis situation in 2001 that nobody will be able to define," he was quoted as saying – 


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