‘Israel is far ahead in water recycling’

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India and Israel signed agreements on water conservation and recycling, where Israel’s technology is considered the most advanced.

Its technology and best practices will both be useful to India, beginning with Uttar Pradesh

On Wednesday, India and Israel signed agreements on water conservation and recycling, where Israel’s technology is considered the most advanced. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, tells The Hindu, its technology and best practices will both be useful to India, beginning with Uttar Pradesh.

What do these two MoUs on water signed by India and Israel represent?

They represent a very good start. In the field of water, Israel has the most advanced and efficient system in the world.

To give you two figures: we desalinate 90% of the water used in our households from the sea, and then we recycle 95% of our sewage water for agriculture.

Israel has a closed cycle and no longer depends on nature (rains) for our water supplies.

Whereas India still depends on the monsoon…

Well, most countries do. After Israel, Spain recycles its water, but it only comes to 17%, so you can see the difference.

Remember, recycling water is not just useful for agricultural purposes, but it also helps in stopping pollution.

Water and irrigation are seldom considered important in most bilateral visits. Why have these issues been given such prominence?

Because they are extremely important. In fact, I’ve visited India, it is a beautiful country, but it has a big problem with water pollution.

Of the two agreements we have signed, one is a general one on education on conservation, and one is with Uttar Pradesh where we try to tie together all Israeli technologies. It is useless to clean the Ganga for example, if you don’t clean the region around it, and stop all sources of pollution into it.

But these could be managed by private agreements with Israeli water companies. Why is there a government to government push on the issue?

Well, today we have a lot of private Israeli companies involved in water management, but it started as a government initiative. So we felt if we could combine cooperation between the governments and then take it to private companies.

Every municipality in Israel lays down rules for citizens that price water according to how much is used, and discourages wastage of water.

Private technologies now facilitate that, and we hope to take this model to the people of India.