'Israeli water firms important tool for diplomacy'

"When we go to another country solving their water problems, it’s the best public diplomacy," says businessman Ronald Lauder.

November 17, 2011 08:01
2 minute read.
Ronald Lauder and Eitan Dery

Ronald Lauder and Eitan Dery. (photo credit: Ezra Levy)


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The entrepreneurship and problem-solving expertise evident in so much of Israeli water technology can serve as a critical tool for diplomacy, Jewish- American philanthropist and businessman Ronald Lauder said in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

“Israel is known throughout the world as a place with great technology, but when we go to another country solving their water problems, it’s the best public diplomacy,” Lauder told a group of journalists at the WATEC water technologies exhibition.

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Lauder spoke from the booth of Karmiel waste-water treatment firm Nirosoft – a subsidiary of Lauder’s group RWL Water – where he announced the larger company’s acquisition of Italianbased Eurotec WTT, a manufacturer of waste-water treatment systems that converts waste into usable energy.

After gradually increasing his investment in Nirosoft to 100-percent ownership of the company, Lauder established RWL in 2010 and later acquired Minnesota-based Aeromix, which provides aeration equipment for drinking water and sewage treatment systems.

“About 10 years ago I realized that water would be the oil of the 21st century and that one could live without oil but one could not live without water,” Lauder told The Jerusalem Post after the press conference. “The fact is that Israel is known worldwide as a place with great water technology.”

By buying Eurotec, Lauder hopes to have increased access to small and medium-sized clients that need water treatment mechanisms, but on a smaller scale than large companies provide.

“One of the reasons RWL exists is to provide water to everybody,” said RWL’s CEO Henry Charrabe, who stressed the importance of making small mobile sewage treatment units more readily available and affordable.

RWL will soon be expanding to six more countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Chile, where there is a huge market for water technologies, according to Lauder and Charrabe.

“Israel can help a great many underdeveloped countries and this is part of diplomacy,” Lauder told the Post. The image of Israel as a tech leader that is helping these countries develop their water systems is a very good one, he said.

A long-time advocate for Israel, Lauder opined that the government must make certain changes to speed up the building of mechanisms such as desalination plants, so that the country can more quickly ensure it has an ample supply of water.

“The interesting thing that people don’t realize is that Israel is exporting huge quantities of water – not as water but as oranges and different agricultural products,” he said. Israel is experiencing major water problems, but it has significant water resources such as the Mediterranean and water under the Negev, and it’s not taking advantage of them, Lauder said.

“There are many things that can be done in Israel to make sure it’s a place with water,” he said.

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