EMS Mekorot eyes global market for Israeli water expertise

‘US is decades behind us in dealing with such an important issue as water.’

Construction work carried out by EMS Mekorot  (photo credit: PR)
Construction work carried out by EMS Mekorot
(photo credit: PR)
Founded in 1937 prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, national water company Mekorot has played a critical role in developing and sustaining the Jewish state.
From transporting fresh water from the Sea of Galilee to isolated communities in the state’s early years, to pioneering desalination efforts and other water technologies, the government-owned company is recognized worldwide for its advanced capabilities.
EMS Mekorot Projects, a subsidiary established in 1961, has long-served as Mekorot’s executional and operational arm for a wide range of infrastructure projects. It has also become a world leader in remote water system control and command systems, as well as rain enhancement operations.
The company has also played an important role in mega-projects including the construction of Israel’s new national water carrier, the fifth water system to Jerusalem, and the nation’s largest pumping system at the Sorek Desalination Plant.
While EMS Mekorot has primarily served its parent company to date, the implementation of new government regulations earlier this year has restricted its access to carrying out major projects domestically.
In return, however, the reform has opened the way for the company to increasingly offer its expertise in infrastructure and water services to the private sector, particularly the global market.
It is a challenge that the company’s management says it is ready to embrace, wherever there is work that fits the company’s experience and capabilities.
“We can see that EMS has opportunities in two main routes,” CEO Amit Lang, former director-general of the Economy Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post at the company’s Holon headquarters. “The first is to sell some of our products and services abroad, which are considered to be among the best in the world. The second route is to be the boots on the ground for international companies that have not yet been in Israel, but which have special capabilities and services not yet introduced to the Israeli market.”
Lang cites EMS Mekorot’s vertical pumps, among the most efficient in the world, and innovative water treatment solutions as key products and services that have high potential for global exports.
Rather than bidding for mega-projects abroad, which the company is not built for, Lang says EMS Mekorot will “be very selective” and focus where it has a competitive advantage.
EMS Mekorot has already been in contact with foreign companies regarding operations in Israel, including in South Korea and the Netherlands, and Lang believes his company can offer an attractive deal to represent prospective firms.
“We have an advantage over other agents because we are a company that can build, provide back-up, do maintenance, supply energy and overcome all sorts of problems in the field,” said Lang. “Companies are very interested, and we have access to the greatest demand, which will be [parent company] Mekorot.”
In October, Lang was invited by the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to share Israel’s experiences with using innovation and technology to overcome water scarcity, particularly due to water shortages in Western states.
“I emphasized that before you use any technology, you have to make sure that you have good infrastructure,” said Lang. “You cannot anticipate that if you still have wood pipes then you can implement technology. It was good for them and very interesting for us to experience such a big country. The US is actually decades behind us in dealing with such an important issue as water. They are where Israel was in the 1960s and 1970s.”
While Israel is known for its water efficiency, drawing water from a range of sources, Lang believes existing desalination efforts will need to be “aggressively” accelerated over the coming decade to enable aquifers to recover.
Two new desalination plants are currently in the pipeline: a second facility in Sorek, and a plant in the Western Galilee.
“If you ask me, we will be introducing another two plants a decade from now,” said Lang. “There is no other option. Another focus is the digital transformation and increased efficiency of water management. We are known as a world-leading country in innovation, but we are not using all our different capabilities in big data and cyber. All the ways in which we generally excel are not yet applied to the water market.”