As the leaders of sun-drenched and water-starved southwestern US regions,
governors Rick Perry of Texas and Brian Sandoval of Nevada expressed eagerness
on Tuesday to see Israeli water technologies expand in the Lone Star and Silver
“Water is an issue that will define our times. I grew up with a
very special affinity to the importance of water,” Perry said of his upbringing
in a rural dry-land cotton farm.
For his part, Sandoval described his
childhood on a small Nevadan sheep farm, which was “so far out in the rural area
that we didn’t have a municipal water supply” and relied on a well tinged with
“I would be embarrassed to go to school because all my T-shirts
were orange,” he said.
Perry and Sandoval were addressing audience
members at an opening session of the Water Technology and Environmental Control
(WATEC) Exhibition and Conference in Tel Aviv, organized annually by the Israel
Trade Fairs Center and the Kenes exhibition company.
“It is fitting that
this conference is held in Israel. Israel faces some special challenges in a lot
of different ways, but certainly from the standpoint of water,” Perry said.
“Texas faces many of the same challenges that Israel faces today. We must strive
to use new technologies to conserve and expand the supplies of the fresh
Explaining that Texas had recently passed a measure that would
provide $2 billion for water projects across the state for the next 50 years,
Perry stressed to Israel: “We follow you and admire you greatly.”
Israel reuses approximately 86 percent of its wastewater by treating it, the
United States only reuses about 1% of its own effluent, the Texas governor
“This country is leading the way,” Perry said. “From a Texas
standpoint, what we’re involved with is only the beginning. We’re ready to
embrace the new technologies that will come out of this conference.”
shy about his intentions, he told the Israeli water innovators in the audience
that “Texas is a place where innovation can be put into action,” describing the
favorable business climate they would find by expanding to the Lone Star
He asserted that countries around the globe continued to look to
Israel as “a country that has grown out of a desert an amazingly powerful
economy – in ways that look a lot like Texas.”
Traveling alongside Perry
to WATEC were two separate delegations from his state – one from the
Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and another sponsored by the American Jewish
Committee’s Project Interchange.
Not to be outshone, Sandoval also told
participants of the welcome partnerships they would find in Nevada.
too, arrived with a 50-member delegation of Nevadans eager to hear about the
Israeli water industry – the first such Nevadan trade mission to Israel, he
“Governor Perry talks about competition.
He wins some, we
win some,” Sandoval joked. “We are very proud of our water center of excellence.
I humbly ask you to check Nevada out.”
Although the city of Las Vegas has
made huge strides in terms of confronting water challenges, and features the new
Nevada Center of Excellence for water management and data analytics, the
Southern Nevada Water Authority is still facing huge challenges, Sandoval
stressed. A leader in municipal water, the authority is eager to form
partnerships with the global community. Israel’s national water corporation,
Mekorot, already has a home in Reno, Nevada, the governor noted.
the success story of what has come out of the desert here in such a short time,”
Sandoval said, adding that Israel’s success gave him hope that he “can do
something for [his] great state.”
Mark Ellison, a member of the private
sector who works with the government and industry in Texas’s water arena, told
The Jerusalem Post that with 1,000 people moving daily to the Lone Star state,
the water supply was facing enormous pressure.
“We’re taking measures to
put in place financing for water infrastructure expansion,” Ellison said. “The
reason we’re here and working with Project Interchange is that we also need
technology and management practices that are prevalent in the Israeli water
He stressed that he and the other members of his delegation
hoped to see Israeli firms moving into the Texas market, bringing with them key
irrigation, desalination and wastewater treatment technologies.
one challenge companies might face upon entering, he acknowledged, is that in
Texas there are more than 43,000 municipal water systems that all function
While this factor does represent a challenge, bodies like
the Texas- Israel Chamber of Commerce help companies overcome such obstacles,
“You have to start, you have to be on the ground,” he
While the Project Interchange delegation largely included water
practitioners from public water utilities and regional authorities, the Texas-
Israel Chamber of Commerce delegation included a range of corporate and academic
leaders in the sector.
The sole purpose of their visit, explained the
latter body’s CEO and president, Clare Freeman, is to learn more about water
technology being innovated in Israel.
“The State of Texas has a water
crisis to solve, and we believe strongly that the solution has been developed
right here in Israel,” Freeman said. “Our mission is to be the primary driver of
economic development between Texas and Israel. We feel this is a great business
opportunity for Israeli water companies, and Texans will be the beneficiaries.”