Spurred by major water shortages six years ago, Israel turned itself around to become the world’s leader of water recycling.
Today, Israel purifies 86% of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use. Israel vastly outranks even the second most efficient recycled water user, Spain, which only recycles 17% of its waste water for agriculture. The US recycles just 1%, according to the data.
The major national effort to desalinate Mediterranean seawater and to recycle wastewater has provided Israel with enough water for all its needs, even during severe droughts. More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced.
Six years ago, the Israeli government began by making huge cuts in the annual water quotas for farmers, ending decades of extravagant overuse of heavily subsidised water for agriculture.
The tax for surplus household use was dropped at the end of 2009 and a two-tiered tariff system was introduced. Regular household water use is now subsidised by a slightly higher rate paid by those who consume more than the basic allotment.
Israeli Water Authority representatives went house to house offering to fit free devices on shower heads and taps that inject air into the water stream, saving about a third of the water used while still giving the impression of a strong flow. Officials say that wiser use of water has led to a reduction in household consumption of up to 18% in recent years.
Furthermore, instead of municipal authorities being responsible for the maintenance of city pipe networks, local corporations have been formed, and the money collected for water is reinvested in the infrastructure.
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