September 23, 2019

L.A.-Eilat task force kicks off with water meeting at City Hall

On the heels of a cooperative agreement signed in March between the governments of Israel and California, the cities of Los Angeles and Eilat built on a 55-year sister-city relationship, holding an inaugural task force meeting Oct. 20 at Los Angeles City Hall. 

The gathering, which was led by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, focused on technology that Israel has successfully implemented to conserve, reuse and purify water in a region with an arid climate and scant rainfall. 

Such innovations could make a big difference locally. Suffering through a three-year drought, Los Angeles remains highly dependent on imported water, even as policymakers and water experts stress a need to develop technologies that would reduce the city’s and county’s reliance on far-off water sources. 

Professor Eilon Adar, director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, presented to the task force a description of how Israel has tackled its water problem, from purifying wastewater to capturing rainwater. 

“If we managed to overcome this problem in Israel, in the Middle East, it can be done almost anywhere else in the world,” Adar said. 

He emphasized, to a somewhat skeptical task force, that desalination should be a tool in any water policy for a region with a growing population and limited groundwater resources. Already, IDE Americas, a subsidiary of an Israeli company, is designing the operating system for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which is set to be finished in 2016 and will produce up to 54 million gallons of water a day for San Diego County. 

The 13-member task force selected as its chair Glenn Yago, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute. In addition to Blumenfield and Yago, the task force’s membership includes Councilmember Paul Koretz, Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel, and officials from the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and the Department of Public Works. 

“Israel has largely solved their [water] problem,” Koretz said. “We haven’t, and there are a lot of things I believe we can learn from Israel.”