What Utah can learn from Israel about water savings

LAKE KINNERET, Israel — The delegation of Utah officials, lawmakers and researchers have been impressed with what Israel has accomplished when it comes to water.

“They really went from a water-hungry country to now a country that’s actually exporting water,” said Zach Renstrom, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District. “There are some lessons to be learned, and it’s been great to come here and see that.”

GSL Collaborative

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.

Lake Kinneret (also known as the Sea of Galilee) was once a major part of Israel’s water supply. That’s no longer the case as the country has created other sources of water using desalination and water reuse.

Israel’s advances in technology and water development are something state leaders are looking at closely as they try to deal with drought and the shrinking Great Salt Lake.

“Israel is known, I think in the water community, as being a true innovator when it comes to technology and forward thinking regarding augmentation of supply,” said Amy Haas, executive director of the Colorado River Authority of Utah.

After touring desalination and wastewater processing plants and farms growing crops in new ways and meeting with Israeli government officials and tech startups, Utah’s delegation is looking at exporting some ideas — starting with a culture of conservation.

“They really do measure every drop of water. I think Utah can do better,” said Teresa Wilhelmsen, Utah State Engineer and director of the Division of Water Rights.

‘The real price of water’

One of the biggest issues that may have to be tackled is how much Utahns pay for water. Israel, for example, charges a tariff for water use. For the average Israeli household, it’s about $150 per household each month. Utah’s water rates vary, depending on where you live and how much you use. That doesn’t …


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