Water of the Middle East and North Africa

Water Challenges in Israel

Judean Desert - Water Challenges in Israel
Photo 1: An Israeli man looks at flash flooding along the Og stream in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea on February 7, 2023. Source: GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP

Most Israeli citizens enjoy a regular water supply through a direct connection to the national water system. Even so, the expected increase in the population and the dwindling supply of water from natural sources may make it difficult to maintain a reliable water supply.

As part of the masterplan that the Israel Water Authority prepared in 2012, a forecast was made of the balance of water sources and the expected consumption in the water economy. Based on this forecast, the conclusion was that in 2030 there will be a shortage of 50 MCM of water, and in 2050 the shortage will increase significantly to 670 MCM.

Moreover, tens of thousands of Bedouins in the Negev live in unrecognized localities, and many of them have only partial access to water. Sometimes the houses are not connected to the water network and the water is supplied in tankers. This introduces numerous challenges including higher costs, limited consumption and an intermittent water supply.

Negev desert
Photo 2: Bedouin children heard sheep during a sandstorm in the Wadi Na'am, an unrecognized Bedouin village, in the Northern Negev desert near Beersheva on January 6, 2015. Israel is bracing for a winter storm that is due to hit the region with heavy rains and snow fall. Source: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP

Along with technical access to water, the accessibility target also emphasizes the price of water. In 2010, water tariffs for consumers were reformed, based on the principle of the real cost. This led to a significant increase in water prices and the disconnection of water supply to consumers who accumulated debts to water suppliers. Therefore, in 2015, rules were approved that make it very difficult for water corporations to disconnect consumers because of debt.

Israel is one of the leading countries when it comes to wastewater treatment and reuse of effluent water, but there are some exceptions. The incidence rate of households connected to sewage collection systems among the Jewish population is 95%, but the incidence rate in non-Jewish and other populations is only 76%. Israel shares natural water sources with the Palestinian Territories. The state of treatment of Palestinian sewage is significantly behind Israel, which directly affects the quality of the water sources that Israel uses.