The latest desalination plant began pumping water into the National Water Carrier on Wednesday, Mekorot, the national water company announced.
The Hadera plant will produce over 100 million cubic meters of water per year. It joins two other desalination plants already in operation, one of equal size in Ashkelon and a smaller one at Palmahim.
With the advent of a major source of water along the coast, the National Water Carrier has begun its biggest overhaul since it was launched in 1964.
Traditionally, water in the pipe has flowed from north to south, or from Lake Kinneret to the center and the Negev. Now, Mekorot has invested millions, and will invest NIS 5 billion more, to connect the desalination plants along the coast to the National Water Carrier. For the first time, water will flow from west to east and then either north or south.
The Hadera plant is part of an ambitious government plan to supplement the dwindling natural supply of fresh water with desalinated seawater. On Tuesday, Water Authority head Prof. Uri Shani predicted that the water crisis would be over in three years when more desalination plants start pumping.
Another plant, to be built by a daughter company of Mekorot, will be erected in Ashdod and another tender was just awarded a week and a half ago to the SDL Group to build a desalination plant in Sorek. That plant will produce 150 million cubic meters of water per year, which will make it one of the biggest reverse osmosis type plants in the world. SDL is comprised of the Hutchison Water and IDE.
The goal is to have 600 million cubic meters of desalinated water being produced annually by 2013. Current household demand is about 750 million cubic meters per year. Once the Hadera plant begins to operate at full capacity, Israel will receive more water from desalination than from Lake Kinneret.
Nevertheless, the current water crisis is still critical. There is a deficit of 2,000 million cubic meters of water because of years of chronic over-pumping and five years of drought.
Part of the reason water prices will be increasing next year is to pay for the modification of the National Water Carrier.
Shani also remarked Tuesday that there was an NIS 30b. deficit in the funding for the project.