JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Finance Ministry has approved funding for the construction of one of the largest water desalination plants in the world.
The plant, which is being constructed in Sorek in central Israel, is scheduled to be completed in 2013 at a cost of $400 million. It will desalinate about 150 million cubic meters of water per year, or about 20 percent of the water used for household use in Israel, and is expected to be the second largest water desalination plant in the world.
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed the agreement Sunday.
"This step will make a significant contribution to solving Israel’s water crisis," he said.
Three desalination plants are operating currently in Israel. Once the Sorek plant is operational, some 65 percent of Israelis’ household water needs will be supplied by desalinated water.
The plant "places the State of Israel — once again — at the global forefront in terms of water economics, and represents an important and essential step to basing Israel’s water sector on the principles of sustainable development," said Oded Fixler, acting director general of the Water Authority. "Israel’s water reserves are below the red line, agriculture is receiving a reduced quantity of water and Israel’s residents are being asked to continue their efforts to save water as a regular way of life. Streamlined use and intelligent management of the water sector will guarantee its growth for the benefit of all Israel’s consumers.”