JERUSALEM, Israel, August 9, 2011 -- Plans for Israel's fifth desalination facility are now underway after the Finance Ministry granted a license for the coastal city of Ashdod with water utility Mekorot.
The 1.5 billion shekel ($423 million) seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant will produce 100 million m3/year of drinking water. This will supply 15% of the Israel's household water use and the desalinated water will be produced at 2.4 shekels ($0.67 approx.) per cubic meter.
Finance minister Yuval Steinitz reportedly said: "The desalination of water from the Mediterranean Sea as a substitute for drawing from the Sea of Galilee is a must for us and we will continue to act and broaden production from existing plants."
Years of drought have forced the country to become a leader in the Middle East for desalination and water reuse and to rely on the Sea of Galilee.
Last year saw the opening of what was called the "world's largest RO plant" at the time in the coastal city of Hadera. Commissioned under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract, the 127 million m3/year facility is operated by Israeli firm H2ID, which is jointly owned by IDE Technologies and Shikun & Binui.
Prior to this, IDE Technologies led the Ashkelon desalination development in the country: a 118 million m3/year RO plant which was praised for producing water at $0.53 per m3 - cheaper than the latest Ashdod development.
Elsewhere in the country, earlier this year Sorek Desalination (subsidiary of IDE Technologies (51%) and Hutchinson Water (49%)) obtained $400 million financing to operate the Sorek desalination plant.
Eventually producing 150 million m3/year, it is claimed this will be the largest SWRO plant in the world. However, Singapore firm Hyflux's Magtaa facility in Algeria is set to add 500,000 m3/day of water to the country's supply.