Friday, March 13, 2009

Turkey-Israel Water Deal Back on the Table?

Today's Jerusalem Post reports that a stalled plan for Israel to import water from Turkey may be revived. Turkey and Israel were in negotiations for several years over a plan that would have Israel buying water from the Manavgat river on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Ankara even went as far as to build a kind of water storage facility on the river. [For some interesting background on Turkey's Manavgat plans, read Scott Peterson's Christian Science Monitor article from 2000.] But the deal ultimately never materialized, mostly because of problems in finding an easy and affordable way to transport the water and because, in recent years, Israel has moved towards building desalination plants as the technology associated with them became less expensive. 

But according to Post's report, officials from the quasi-governmental Jewish National Fund (JNF) recently told a government committee looking into Israel's growing water crisis about some possible future plans, among them going back to the Manavgat:
[Russell Robinson, the organization's chief executive officer] and several of the other JNF officials told the committee that an Israeli innovation could be worth looking into in conjunction with importing water from Turkey.

Inventor Roni Yafe has invented a cloth sleeve that he says can hold fresh water and transport it over long distances. Fresh water is lighter than salt water, so the sleeves float and can be towed by ships.

Yafe has tested a 60,000 cubic meter bag, but said he believed a load of 300,000 cu.m. could be towed. He also has said he could import 500 million cubic meters of water per year using this method, the equivalent of five large desalination plants.

The Water Authority has remained skeptical of Yafe's invention, awaiting further tests before seriously considering it. The government also prefers desalination over dependence on a foreign country, especially one whose relations with Israel occasionally resemble a roller coaster ride.

Foreign Ministry legal advisor Ehud Keinan told the water crisis committee Thursday that plans to import water from Turkey had not been implemented because of high costs, technical difficulties and internal Turkish issues. Keinan handled negotiations on the issue from 2000 to 2006.
Worth noting is that Turkey has, for the last few years, been experiencing water shortages of its own. In fact, following a drought two years ago, the famous water falls on the Manavgat river itself went dry after water managers were forced to restrict the river's flow.

1 comment:

Terry said...

For a better water transport idea see: www.waterbag.com for photos, and link to YouTube and insert the words, "Spragg Bag" in the selection box to see a video of television coverage of a waterbag demonstration technology developed and tested in the United States at MIT.