“Let There Be Water,” by Seth M. Siegel

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press  2015
352 pages    $27.99
Review by Philip K. Jason

This smart, engaging, and extremely feel-good book tells one of the stories that best illustrates how Israel consistently turns crises into opportunities and challenges into victories.

Long before statehood, the nascent country’s leaders and planners had realized that population and economic growth required an efficient and secure infrastructure, and that a dependable, affordable water supply was at the heart of it all, necessitating both scientific and managerial innovation. Even as Israel grew to be more and more exemplary of booming private capitalism, government monopoly would be the best way to manage water.

And so it has proven to be.

The invention of and commitment to drip irrigation—a technique that put the water only where it was needed, when it was needed, and in the precise quantity that was needed—revolutionized agriculture, first in Israel and later throughout the world. The commitment to extracting fresh water from seawater also contributed not only to Israel’s water independence, but to the improbable condition of water abundance as well—similarly accomplished by building the capability of turning sewage into a major component of an unparalleled national water system. And developing a water-sensitive culture proved every bit as important as the technologies implemented. (The government of Israel effectively encourages citizens not to waste a drop—and to make sure there are no leaks in their distribution systems—by charging users at least the actual cost for water.)

To read the entire review as it appears on the Jewish Book Council website, click here: Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World

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