npj Clean Water volume 5, Article number: 67 (2022)


In 2005, Israel began using desalination to augment limited natural water supplies. While desalination has helped Israel overcome chronic water shortages, high-population growth may test this approach. We examine how three population growth scenarios (low, medium, high) could affect water demand and supply by 2065. Our projections show that Israel will need to desalinate as much as 3.7 billion m3 annually, compared to 0.5 billion m3 in 2020. Meeting this demand could require the construction of 30 new desalination units. The effects of population growth on Israel’s water supply are likely to dwarf those of climate change. Increased desalination would, however, increase electricity demand, requiring over 11 TWh electricity annually. Population growth is also likely to challenge Israel’s wastewater management policies, producing more effluent than farmers will have the capacity to consume. The Israeli experience will provide important lessons for regions facing similar pressures.

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