Eye on the Middle East Nov/Dec 2004
If oil is properly termed black gold, then one would suppose water could properly be termed liquid gold. Today the search is on for new sources of water to sate the thirst of the world’s population and accommodate the industrial explosion taking place around the globe. A U.S.
senator, speaking of the future of the Southwestern states, said the greatest problem will most certainly be finding enough water to accommodate the region’s rapid development.
Israel is not exempt from suffering when it comes to water starvation. Those of us who travel in the Middle East frequently are intrigued by the ups and downs of the Galilee, the nation’s major feeder for the National Water Carrier, Israel’s national water supply system.
And though Israelis would be overjoyed to strike oil, they seem even more concerned about finding new water sources to maintain the present level of agricultural production and to begin developing the parched soil of the Negev, which plays such an important role in Israel’s future.
Cause for optimism has come with the advent of a new desalination plant that began operation a short time ago. The Hof Hacarmel water desalination plant, located in Atlit, desalinizes brinish water drawn from wells and turns it into an annual 2 million cubic meters (about 628.4 million gallons) of drinking water.
This is very good news to the residents and farmers in Carmel coast communities and the city of Haifa. Once connected to the country’s water system, it will also feed water to other parts of the country.
An elated director of the Mekorot national water company said, “The addition of another two million cubic meters of water with the new Atlit plant is an important step in improving and assuring the water supply.”
But if the new plant’s supply represents an encouraging small stream, the future promises to bring a flood of the life-giving liquid. A much larger desalination facility, which will process sea water, is slated to begin operation at the end of 2005 and, by mid-2006, will add more than 100 million cubic meters (26.4 billion gallons) of pure drinking water to the nation’s supply.
Reading reports of the strides in water-making by these entrepreneurs brings to mind the message of Elijah to King Ahab in the book of 1 Kings. After years of devastating drought, the prophet prayed that the Lord would send rain to the parched Holy Land. “And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain” (1 Ki. 18:41).
His prophetic word to an unworthy king also reminds us of another, better day, for the future of the land and the Chosen People. For God is the ultimate Giver of life, and one of the primary expressions of that fact is water. Consequently, Scriptures like those in Zechariah related to the Second Coming of the Messiah, are a source of vibrant expectation:
And it shall be, in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea; in summer and in winter shall it be (Zech 14:8).
Israel’s millennia-long search for water will be ended. God’s land will be well watered, lush, and green. And the source of the verdancy will be the one who once said,
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink (Jn. 7:37).