Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot will sign a deal in the coming days to provide Bahrain with desalination technology, possibly marking the first of many similar agreements between the Jewish state and Gulf countries following the U.S.-brokered normalization accords.
The agreement, which will see Israeli technology desalinate brackish water in the tiny Gulf kingdom, is the result of talks between Bahrain’s Water and Electricity Authority and Mekorot, led by its CEO Eli Cohen and chairperson Mordechai Mordechai, the Globes daily reported.
The deal is worth tens of millions annually, the report said.
Cohen was also in the UAE to assess interest in other water technology deals. According to Mekorot, the UAE and Bahrain have expressed interest in technology that aids monitoring the quality of water, reducing waste and leakages, as well as water management systems and integration of technical management services, Globes said.
The company also praised the high level of water engineers they met with in the Gulf countries.
However, the most pressing need in both Gulf states is to desalinate brackish water for agriculture and drinking. Bahrain has no surface water resources and saltwater bodies have leaked into aquifers, resulting in the salination of groundwater. Almost all drinking water is imported bottles of mineral water.
Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed bin Rashid, who visited Israel last month, told Globes his country was interested in particular in Israeli knowhow in desalination.
Israel is known for its water scarcity and has emerged as a world leader in the field. Less than five years ago, Israel’s water reserves had reached dangerously low levels. The tides have since changed drastically, and the waters of the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main freshwater lake, are now overflowing.
The country also launched a massive, nationwide water conservation campaign which included TV ads encouraging people to save water by taking shorter showers as well as installing half flow toilets in houses. About 30 percent of Israel’s irrigation water originates from wastewater.
However, the largest contributor to Israel’s water success is its desalination program. Some 80 percent of potable water now flows from five desalination plants around the country.