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Desalination over the years

Mekorot’s desalinated water cycles cover all parts of the country; for example, in the southernmost city of Eilat. In the early years, Eilat was a small town thirsty for water. At that time, in the late forties and early fifties of the last century, tap water was prohibited for drinking, and the daily distribution of drinking water was done through tankers that came from the north. The breakthrough in the development of the city was recorded a decade later. In 1965, Mekorot established the first facility in the town for desalinating water from wells using the method of evaporating the salt in the water, and in 1973 the second desalination plant was established in Eilat using the method of refining the salt in the well water.
With technological advances, Mekorot began desalinating water for the city in 1978 through more cost-effective and energy-efficient technology – “reverse osmosis" (the Sabha A Plant). The increase in demand for water in the city led the company to construct another facility (Sabha B) a few years later for the desalination of well water using this  technology.


In 1997, Mekorot established the first facility in Israel for desalination using the "reverse osmosis” technology. The news of the Sabha C Plant reverberated around the world thanks to its unique operating system. According to this method, the plant desalinates a mixture of seawater and brine that is discharged from the brackish water desalination plants, thereby ensuring a low cost of the desalination process compared to similar sized facilities around the world. Mekorot was standing at the forefront of technology and made the breakthrough in the desalination of water in Eilat which was also thanks to the development of advanced means of disposing of the chemical component of the process (boron), in order to avoid damage to agricultural crops. This development, the use of which has been expanded to other desalination plants, has been registered as Mekorot’s worldwide patent, and has facilitated further improvement of the process.


Today, Mekorot satisfies all of Eilat’s water needs via the three desalination plants which operate on "reverse osmosis" technology. We are talking about a water supply of approx. 55,000 cubic meters a day, to about 100,000 people - tourists and residents alike. The quality water supplied by Mekorot with maximum reliability and availability, contributes to the continued development of tourism which is booming in the city.

 

Desalinated water also contributes to strengthening communities in the southern Arava (Samar, Eliphaz, Ayalot, etc.) as well as the army camps in the area.

 

Manufacturing and supplying water to the city of Eilat and its surroundings is one of many examples of Mekorot’s achievements over the years in the field of desalination. The achievements are reflected in four key aspects:

 

  • Technological progress – using a range of the most up-to-date membranes, while combining them
  • Energy saving – a reduction in energy consumption
  • Brine treatment – operating an advanced system for the efficient and responsible disposal of the salt discharged in the process
  • Disposal of chemicals – combining means that allow for a more effective treatment of chemical elements in the water, such as boron


At the same time, Mekorot continues to invest in research and development of new technologies for water desalination. The research and development is designed to ensure maximum utilization of existing water sources and continuous improvement of the process, while reducing the environmental impact resulting therefrom.