Samuel Taylor Coleridge couldn’t have put it better when he said “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” describing the ordeal of the mariner trapped on his ship. While most nations today share the same fate as the mariner—ocean’s hold 96.5% of the water yet over one in ten people around the world don’t have access to safe water as per Water.org—Israel has found a cost efficient new-age technology solution to water woes. According to environmental magazine, Ensia, the new desalination techniques have turned the country which has had over a decade of drought into a water surplus nation. Desalination is not Israel’s invention but according to Ensia, the country’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research has created a system using porous lava stones to increase the efficiency of desalination plants. The plant works by pushing water through membranes containing microscopic pores. But microorganisms in seawater stick to the membranes thereby blocking the pores, leading to cyclical costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. Lava stones capture the microorganisms before they can reach the membrane thus creating a chemical-free solution to membrane blocking.
Though India has been using desalination techniques—a report by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and India Water Foundation forecast that over 500 desalination plants will be commissioned by 2017—the country can certainly learn from the Israel experience which draws 55% of its water from desalination. With a water aid report highlighting that over 75 million people do not have access to safe water, the desalination process would not only increase the availability of water, but also reduce the cost for Indians who pay more than a rupee per litre.