Mekorot on Tuesday inaugurated its new NIS 550 million Central Filtration Plant at Eshkol, ushering in a new era in the quality of Israel's drinking water. "The Central Filtration Plant that Mekorot established here at the Eshkol site is one of the most visible and important projects that we have completed of late," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who attended the ceremony. "It equips the state of Israel for for a new era of treating the quality of drinking water, an era that will place us at the forefront of countries in the Western world." The plant is the fourth largest in the world, and the largest of its kind in Israel, according to Mekorot CEO Ronen Wolfman. The site of the plant is named for Levi Eshkol who was Mekorot's first manager and later became prime minister of Israel. "This is a technologically state-of-the-art facility that treats water pumped from Lake Kinneret, which is sent by Mekorot via the National Water Carrier to destinations throughout Israel, and upgrades the quality of water supplied by Mekorot," he said. Wolfman added that research and studies around the world indicate that filtering is the most effective means for treating surface water and bringing it to the strictest turbidity level mandated by health authorities around the world, including Israel's Health Ministry. After a meticulous examination of bids, in late 2003, Mekorot selected the EL-PC consortium, with Solel Boneh Building and Infrastructure Ltd. as the subcontractor for civil engineering work for the project. Construction of the facility took three years. The Central Filtration Plant will have a visitors' center that is due to open to the public during the second half of 2008.