The environmental tariff of drinking water in Israel

A recent study examined all the environmental damages caused by the various processes of the drinking water supply system in Israel and found that its ecological footprint is nothing short of significant.

Published in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, the study was conducted in the laboratory of Vered Blass, a faculty member at the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Tel Aviv University, as part of Noa Meron’s doctoral dissertation.

The researchers conducted a first-of-its-kind life-cycle analysis of the Israeli drinking water supply system – a complete assessment of the system’s environmental effects, which included the various sources of drinking water in the country. In 2015, for instance, 49% of the drinking water came from groundwater aquifers, 36% was desalinated water and 15% was pumped from surface reservoirs (such as the Sea of Galilee).

Every mechanism in the system was examined, from the pumping, the production and the transportation of the water, to the use of chemicals, as well as the effect of the materials that make up its infrastructure.

According to the findings, the volume of greenhouse gases released during the operation of the drinking water supply system in 2015 was 2.3 kg. per cubic meter of water (with greenhouse gases such as methane normalized as CO2 equivalence – equivalent to the effect of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas).

For comparison, this amount is similar to the amount of greenhouse gases released during a 9-km. car ride or in four 30° wash cycles. This figure is lower than the amount released in countries such as Italy (which stands at 3.4 kg. per cu.m. of water) and the US (2.5 kg.), but also higher than the values in many other places where seawater desalination is not used, such as Romania (1 kg.), Canada (0.2 kg.) or Switzerland (0.2 kg).

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