Israel shows off desalination, sewage plants

Israel displayed its best desalination plant to visiting diplomats Thursday, marking International Water Day, by demonstrating how the desert nation keeps from shriveling in the sun. The plant, at the southern port of Ashkelon, turns 330,000 cubic meters of Mediterranean seawater into fresh water every day for about €0.40 each - compared to €0.60 a cubic meter at other plants, according to an official from the company that built the Israeli facility. Ezra Barkai, desk manager for IDE technologies, said the plant uses the common reverse osmosis technology that pushes water through a series of filters to remove salt, but also streamlines and reuses energy sources to make the finished product relatively inexpensive. "Its very impressive," said Zhou Hui, economic and commercial counselor from the Chinese embassy. "Chinas economy is growing very quickly, and we need water just as much as fuel or steel. We hope Israel can show us how to expand our industry without destroying our environment and natural resources." Hui said that China was considering spending around €75 million for a pilot desalination facility that would produce about a third as much as the one in Ashkelon.