'State water technology seen as extraordinary’

Energy and water minister Landau at global water forum, hopes to see partnership with Electricite de France.

Energy, Water Minister Uzi Landau at press conference_390 (photo credit: Gidon Sharon)
Energy, Water Minister Uzi Landau at press conference_390
(photo credit: Gidon Sharon)
This week in France, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau has been forging dialogues with international energy partners, as well as learning from his governmental counterparts in other water-thirsty nations.
Landau flew to France to take part in the sixth World Water Forum, held once every three years, this time from Monday through Friday in Marseille.
Organized by the International Forum Committee – made up of the World Water Council and the French National Committee – this year’s forum is hosting 25,000 participants from more than 180 countries and 140 ministries.
On Tuesday, Landau cochaired a roundtable on wastewater management together with Singaporean Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, addressing topics of water recycling and restoration with dignitaries and nongovernmental organization representatives from various nations.
Notable participants in the discussion included the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander, who also serves as the chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, as well as Israel Water Authority head Alex Kushnir and Singapore’s Public Utilities Board chief executive Chew Men Leong.
“During the roundtable we were involved with, things went very smoothly, very well,” Landau told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Marseille late on Tuesday night. “All of the comments made were highly respectful of Israel. People do relate to what we do as something extraordinary, in the results of it, in the ingenuity in what we achieve.”
In addition to bringing Israel’s innovations to the table, Landau said that he was able to take in a lot from hearing about Singapore’s experiences managing and treating its water resources. He was impressed to learn about the urban water successes in a place a 27th the size of Israel, where there are 5 million people in only 700 square kilometers.
Balakrishnan and Landau aimed to combine the two countries’ approaches of handling water in both arid and urbanized areas, with “each of our experiences complementing the other,” Landau said.
Representatives from all over the world attended the co-led roundtable, including participants from Egypt, Tunisia and Kosovo, as well as members and directors of the International Desalination Association and the International Water Association, the minister reported.
“Whoever spoke about what is done in Israel has done so with much respect,” Landau said, noting that there were no interjections about Israeli- Palestinian water struggles during his roundtable.
Also on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority Water Minister Shaddad Attili was one of the leaders of a side event on Israeli-Palestinian water issues, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad participated in a session about a forthcoming French-funded desalination plant for Gaza.
Before arriving in Marseille, Landau spent time on Monday in Paris, where he met with several officials from Electricite de France (EDF) – including Chairman and CEO Henri Proglio and Senior Executive VP for International Development Gerard Wolf.
Proglio and Wolf briefed Landau on EDF’s activities across the globe and the company’s experience handling demand management, while Landau informed the officials about the energy economy in Israel and the electricity shortage that will likely occur this summer.
Landau outlined his ministry’s ongoing efforts to boost energy efficiency as well as his intentions to rent 25-megawatt generators in the coming months to help meet the summer’s needs.
One idea that struck a chord with Landau was Proglio and Wolf’s suggestion to make public appeals during peak hours on television, radio or online, asking that people “perhaps give up any use of electricity” – a tactic that EDF had employed during periods of shortage in South Africa.
“We are fishing for such ideas,” Landau told the Post.
Meanwhile, Landau and the EDF representatives spoke about different forms of cooperation that might occur between EDF and the Israel Electric Corporation, such as potential participation in the construction of the dual-fuel Ashkelon D power plant.
“In order to stabilize the energy economy in Israel and ensure its reliability now and in the future, we would like to maximize the major potential for cooperation between the sides, as found expression in this meeting,” Landau told the French executives at the close of their meeting, according to his office. “I would be happy to host you soon in Israel.”