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Texas Partners with Israel for Desalination

May 31, 2015

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  (Genesis 12:3)

On May 20, the Israeli city Hadera, which produces about half of Israel’s electricity and has the world’s second-largest desalination plant, became sister-cities with El Paso, Texas.

El Paso officials chose Hadera based upon its work in desalination, wind, solar and electric power, nearby high-tech incubation, and desert environment.  (JSpace News)

“Hadera is striving to be a center of energy-related business and high tech companies,” said Hadera mayor Tzvika Gendelman at the El Paso city hall.  “We are in the process of building an industrial zone devoted to the field of energy.”  (El Paso Times)

Reverse Osmosis-Desalination-Dan Shapiro

United States Ambassador Daniel Shapiro visits and tours the Hadera Desalination Plant, one of the world’s leading seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants.  (Photo by US Embassy at Tel Aviv)

El Paso is the westernmost town in Texas, bordering both New Mexico and Mexico.  

El Paso’s Borderplex Alliance sought the sister-city agreement to open El Paso and the surrounding region, including southern New Mexico, to more global investment.  It will bring Israeli investors to town while sending El Paso investors to Israel.  (El Paso, Inc.)

The regional economic development organization will seek to connect within the business, economic, cultural and academic sectors—with the University of Texas at El Paso also opening admissions to students from Hadera.

“There are so many similarities between our cities,” El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser stated.  “This partnership provides us both with the opportunity to learn from each other’s shared challenges and victories.”  (El Paso, Inc.)

Sister cities Hadera, Israel-El Paso, US-Mayor Tzvika Gendelman-Mayor Oscar Leesar

Hadera Mayor Tzvika Gendelman (right) shakes the hand of El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser (left) as they sign the sister-city agreement.

Meanwhile, the University of Texas at El Paso scored second place in the Securing Water for Food Desal Prize last month with its “Zero Discharge Desalination” technology that uses electrodialysis to “remove undesirable ions from water” in the desalination process.

While first place went to a research team pairing MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems, a firm that recently merged with an Israeli company into NaanDanJain, the competition also put the University of Texas at El Paso up against another Texan-Israeli team.  (USAID)

The team of researchers from the University of North Texas in Denton and Haifa’s Israel Institute of Technology along with other institutes won Honorable Mention for finding a new way to make brackish water drinkable.

The Haifa-Denton team’s innovative research into water desalination earned a $125,000 prize, which the researchers aim to “pay forward” by installing their technology in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in order to relieve water shortages in that country.

Jordan Valley-Israel-Jordan borders

Jordan and Israel share a border at the Jordan River, as seen in this map of the south Jordan Valley.  The countries also share a need for innovative fresh water solutions.

The Denton university researchers initiated the partnership with members of the Technion’s Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research Institute.  While the American members of the team tackled finding a new alternative-energy solution, they asked the Israeli contingent to work on a new desalination design.

“The water treatment process was based on an innovative combination of three technologies—reverse osmosis, ion exchange and nano-filtration,” said Prof. Ori Lahav, a participant from the Technion.  “The challenge was to find a solution for problematic water characterized by particularly high concentrations of dissolved calcium and sulfate.”

The demand on freshwater resources worldwide has grown rapidly in recent years, with implications greatest for agriculture and industry.  In the last 50 years, freshwater use has tripled and demand continues to grow by 54 billion cubic meters a year.  (worldometers)

“By 2050, global water demand is expected to increase by 55 percent, and 70 percent of global water use occurs in food production,” said USAID Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes.  (waterworld)

Israel technology is already in San Diego, California where the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere will soon provide 50 million gallons of potable water a day to a region that is in a “state of emergency” due to a four-year drought.

Recognizing the urgent worldwide need, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands funded this year’s $200,000 prize.  The top three teams will also be able to apply for funding grants.  (securingwaterforfood)

In the years to come, God will likely continue to use Israel to provide solutions for the world’s desperate need for water.

“…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  (Genesis 12:3)

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