On May 23, the ministry signed an agreement for the $400 million project
with an Israeli-led joint venture, SDL, Middle East Newsline reported. SDL was owned by Israel's IDE
Technologies and the Hong Kong-based Hutchison Water International Holdings,
winners of a desalination tender.
Officials said the desalination pant would be completed in 2013. They
said the 100-dunam facility, designed to operate on reverse osmosis
technology, would be based on the so-called build-own-transfer model,
designed to avoid government ownership. Investment in the project has
included the European Union's European Investment Bank.
Under the project, the price of desalinated water would be 2.01 shekel
[$0.57] per cubic meter. The project was launched amid Israel's six-year
drought and would supply 20 percent of the nation's drinking and 10 percent
of potable water consumption. Neighboring Jordan and Syria, with major
distribution problems, have long been forced to rely on water tankers for
Israel already operates three desalination plants, located in Ashkelon,
Hadera and Palmachim, which supply a total of 300 million cubic meters of
water. With the latest facility, officials said, Israel would produce
300 million cubic meters of water over the next three years.
"But we must not forget that Israel is still in the midst of a crisis
and an intensive desalination process is essential," National Infrastructure
Minister Uzi Landau said. "Only a good winter next year and the continued
rapid and massive construction of desalination plants and expansion of the
existing plants can lead to the recovery of the water sector and take us out
of the crisis."