How to Improve Water Resilience with Israel’s National Water Company

In today’s rapidly changing environment, water resilience has emerged as a critical aspect of sustainable development and disaster preparedness. The frequency of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and droughts underscores the importance of ensuring that water utilities can withstand and quickly recover from such events. This imperative is not just about managing a precious resource but also about safeguarding public health, supporting economies, and protecting ecosystems.

Against this backdrop, Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, stands out as a beacon of innovation and resilience. With a comprehensive approach to water resource management, Mekorot ensures the continuous supply of safe, high-quality water, even in the face of adversity.

The company’s efforts align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG6, which aims for the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and SDG11, which focuses on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Mekorot’s success story is not just about its technological prowess but also about its commitment to resilience, sustainability, and global cooperation, let’s explore it:

with 🎙️ Yossi Yaacoby – Vice-President of Engineering at Mekorot

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🔗 Yossi Yaacoby’s Linkedin:

🔗 Global Water Summit (including the Water Resilience workshop):

🔗 Mekorot’s Website:

🔗 OECD’s report on Climate Resilient Infrastructure:

🔗 What does resilience mean for urban water services:

🔗 Global Water Resilience Analysis of Water Distribution Systems:

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Full Video:

The Concept of Water Resilience

Water resilience refers to the capacity of water systems to absorb, recover from, and successfully adapt to adverse conditions such as natural disasters, climate change impacts, and human-induced pressures. It encompasses the ability to maintain essential functions in the face of stress or disturbance, ensuring the availability of safe water supplies and the protection of water quality across various scenarios. This concept is integral to achieving SDG6, highlighting the necessity of resilient water management practices that can withstand and bounce back from emergencies.

The recent devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Morocco, alongside floods in Greece and Libya, have laid bare the vulnerabilities of water utilities to natural disasters. These events illustrate not just the immediate human and infrastructural toll but also the long-term challenges in restoring water services, a situation that exacerbates health risks and hampers recovery efforts. Thus, embedding resilience into water utility frameworks is vital for minimizing disruption and accelerating recovery, ensuring that communities continue to access safe water in the aftermath of disasters.

Water Resilience applied to Water Utilities

Building resilient water utilities involves a multi-faceted approach.

  1. Firstly, it requires a robust infrastructure design that incorporates redundancy, scalable storage capabilities, and diversification of water sources. Such measures enhance the system’s ability to function despite damaged components or resource scarcity.
  2. Secondly, the adoption of advanced technologies plays a crucial role. Digital tools and machine learning applications can monitor water quality and infrastructure integrity in real-time, facilitating swift responses to emerging threats.
  3. Thirdly, resilience is about preparedness and adaptability. This involves developing emergency plans, conducting regular drills, and establishing rapid response teams equipped to address crises effectively.
Mekorot is Israel's National Water Company
Needless to say, that’s not a sponsored post 🙂

Mekorot exemplifies this comprehensive approach. The company’s water management strategy includes an optimal mix of seawater and brackish water desalination, groundwater, surface water, and reclaimed water. This diversity of sources ensures a stable supply even during extreme conditions. Moreover, Mekorot’s investment in digital technologies, such as its Command and Control strategy, enhances its ability to monitor and manage water resources efficiently, ensuring high-quality water delivery around the clock. The company’s warm disaster recovery systems further guarantee service continuity, exemplifying a proactive stance towards disaster resilience.

The Human Factor of water resilience

In addition to infrastructure and technology, community engagement and international cooperation are pivotal. Sharing knowledge and best practices with global partners can foster innovation and strengthen resilience strategies across the board. Mekorot’s active participation in international forums and workshops underscores its commitment to advancing global water resilience.

In conclusion, water resilience is an essential element of sustainable development, encompassing a wide range of practices designed to ensure the continuous, safe supply of water under adverse conditions. As demonstrated by Mekorot, achieving this resilience requires a holistic approach that integrates robust infrastructure, cutting-edge technology, and global collaboration. With water at the heart of socio-economic development and ecological balance, the quest for resilience is more than a technical challenge—it’s a commitment to the future of our planet.

Global Challenges and the Need for Resilient Water Utilities

In 2023, the world was once again reminded of the precariousness of its most vital resource: water. Devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Morocco, along with severe floods in Greece and Libya, laid bare the vulnerability of water utilities to natural catastrophes. These events were not isolated occurrences but rather stark representations of the ongoing and escalating challenges faced globally.

In Turkey, the February earthquakes damaged critical infrastructure, resulting in interruptions to water supply that compounded the hardships of the affected populations. Infrastructure, poorly equipped to withstand such seismic activity, crumbled, leaving thousands without access to clean water for days, even weeks. Similarly, Morocco’s infrastructure suffered significant damage, leading to widespread water service disruptions.

Too much water is almost more of a problem than too few

The floods in Greece and Libya presented a different, yet equally complex, set of problems. Water treatment plants were overwhelmed, contamination of freshwater sources occurred, and pipeline breaches led to significant losses of potable water. In Libya, where water stress is a known issue, the floods emphasized the dire consequences of inadequate infrastructure resilience, with many communities facing acute water shortages.

These events underscore a critical need: the development and maintenance of resilient water utilities. Resilience in this context refers not only to the strength of physical structures but also to the adaptability and responsiveness of systems and organizations. A water utility that can quickly recover from a disaster is one that has diversified its water sources, invested in robust infrastructure, and implemented efficient emergency protocols.

The need for such resilience is also reflected in policy and academic discussions on sustainable development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation, and SDG 11, which targets sustainable cities and communities, are inextricably linked to disaster preparedness and response. Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water post-disaster is crucial to achieving these goals.

Investing in water resilience is a proactive move that pays back

Therefore, investing in resilient water utilities is not merely a response strategy; it’s a proactive approach to ensure the continuity of water supply in the face of natural disasters. The integration of innovative technologies, such as remote sensing, real-time monitoring, and adaptive management systems, is essential to bolster the resilience of water utilities. Moreover, cross-sector collaboration, community engagement, and international cooperation can provide shared learning opportunities and aid in developing comprehensive strategies to face these global challenges.

In conclusion, the necessity for resilient water utilities cannot be overstated. As the impacts of climate change intensify and the frequency and severity of natural disasters increase, a robust and responsive water infrastructure becomes not just a matter of convenience but of survival. Utilities around the world must take note of these recent events and prioritize resilience in their development plans, ensuring that when disaster strikes, the flow of life-giving water persists unabated.

Mekorot’s Approach to Water Resilience

Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, has been an exemplar of innovation and resilience in water management since its inception in 1937. Emerging from the necessity to provide reliable water resources in a region beset by scarcity, Mekorot has developed a comprehensive and integrated approach to water supply and quality management that encompasses the entire water cycle.

The evolution of Mekorot is a chronicle of adapting to adversity and pioneering new techniques in water technology. Early on, the company recognized the critical importance of managing diverse water sources, including seawater and brackish water desalination, groundwater, surface water, and reclaimed water. This diversity not only ensures a stable water supply but also builds resilience against droughts and other natural disasters.

Lessons learned in Israel’s desert can be applied worldwide

Mekorot’s holistic water resource management strategies have set the benchmark for water utilities worldwide. They have achieved optimal integration of their various water sources, underpinned by a commitment to water quality and safety. These efforts align with their broader goals of environmental stewardship and sustainability, reflecting the ethos of Israel’s pioneering spirit in water conservation and technology.

To fortify its disaster risk management, Mekorot has embraced digital technologies. The company employs cutting-edge communication tools and machine learning algorithms to monitor and control hundreds of wells, pump stations, and pipelines, ensuring the efficient operation of water supply systems 24/7. This digital layer of infrastructure serves as both an early warning system and a rapid response mechanism, crucial in times of crisis.

The robustness of Mekorot’s infrastructure is a testament to its resilience strategy. With high redundancy in equipment, substantial storage capabilities, and emergency preparedness, the utility can maintain water supply even in adverse conditions. For instance, Mekorot’s warm disaster recovery (DR) systems are designed to ensure the continuity of services during and after emergencies. Portable pump units and flexible piping systems are prepped for immediate deployment, and backup generators guarantee that water treatment and distribution can continue even when power grids fail.

Mekorot’s approach goes beyond mere technology and infrastructure. It encapsulates a philosophy where continuous learning, investment in innovation, and proactive disaster planning are core principles. By fostering resilience in water utility management, Mekorot not only safeguards its own population but also shares its knowledge globally, contributing to a more water-secure world.

International Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

Mekorot’s influence extends far beyond the borders of Israel, as it plays a significant role in international water resilience through collaboration and knowledge sharing. It engages in multifaceted partnerships, offering expertise gleaned from its comprehensive water management strategies to support global water sustainability initiatives.

Examples of Mekorot’s international outreach include collaborations with water utilities around the world, sharing best practices in water resource management, and adapting its innovative technologies to different regional contexts. This exchange is vital, as it allows for a greater understanding of how diverse water systems can be optimized and safeguarded against an array of environmental threats.

Significantly, Mekorot’s contributions to the Global Water Summit (hard to believe, I know, but this is still not sponsored!) and the Water Sector Resilience Workshop exemplify its commitment to global water issues. The company doesn’t just participate in these events; it actively shapes the discourse, presenting case studies and leading discussions that drive the agenda on water security and resilience. Through these platforms, Mekorot facilitates a crucial dialogue among international leaders, policymakers, and experts, focusing on creating sustainable and resilient water systems worldwide.

The Future of Water Resilience (and Mekorot’s Role)

As we peer into the future of water management, a spectrum of emerging trends and technologies promises to redefine resilience. Smart water networks, predictive analytics, and advanced desalination methods stand at the forefront of these innovations. Mekorot remains at the cutting edge, implementing AI-driven water quality monitoring and leveraging IoT for comprehensive resource management.

Mekorot’s future initiatives are set to further the global dialogue on water resilience. They include developing international partnerships for knowledge exchange and working on projects that align closely with global water sustainability objectives.

Concluding, the path to securing water resilience lies in embracing continuous innovation and fostering international collaboration. Mekorot’s ongoing dedication to these principles not only ensures its leadership role in the future of water management but also inspires a collective effort toward a water-secure world.

My Full Conversation with Yossi Yaacoby on Water Resilience

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi Yossi, welcome to the show.

Yossi Yaacoby: Hi. Good to be here.

Antoine Walter: I’m super excited to take on the topic, which we will be discussing today, because I think it’s a very timely topic. And it’s also a topic which is probably at the same time of high importance and overlooked by probably too many people.

But before going heads first into the topic, I’d like to understand your path, because when I looked you up, you have one of these rare profiles nowadays of someone who grew through the ranks of Mikkorot. So that’s the employer you’ve been with for your entire career. Today, you’re a vice president of engineering, and I’m wondering, what are the learnings you made on that way?

Yossi Yaacoby: When you’re talking about Mekorot, my home, I’m more than 25 years in the company. I started as an engineer, chemical engineer, process engineer. I didn’t understand what is sanitation. I learned a little bit in university. What is the wastewater side? Starting working as a process engineer, a project manager, understand a little bit about water supply, because I started in our subsidiary, which is a waterware company.

And then I came to McElroth and I became the head of innovation of this company. We are taking all the understanding of the new startups. You are coming with your understanding and know how, try to implement it to early stage companies. Afterwards, I had the chief of staff of my CEO. I learned how top management is working, how to work with the board, how to move a big ship like McRoth.

And nowadays as a VP of engineering, I’m trying to get all the things that I learned all over the way and to implement it. By the way. I am still learning.

Antoine Walter: You mentioned the big ship. Actually, it would be interesting to define Mekorot because it’s Israel’s national water company. But once we’ve said that, it’s not obvious because you’re not really a conventional utility than you would see like Haute Paris in France or something like that.

What would be your elevator pitch to Mekorot?

Yossi Yaacoby: Mekorot, it’s this country vision. We were established 12 years prior the establishment of the state of Israel in 1937. When you are growing bigger than your country, you have some. Responsibility. You are the older one. So with the water, with the pet of the water all over the country, we build our town, communities, kibbutz, all kinds of communities, all kinds of industrial activity, and mainly all kinds of agriculture.

So it’s a big responsibility, but always, always struggling. Always at the edge of a desert. Always. Due to climate change, you have to find a new solution. Starting as others using AgriFirst and then the National Carrier, that was those days a unique project that taking water from the rich, relatively, north to the dry south, and it was not enough.

And we started to drill wells for 1, 500 meter depth and then the salination and the reclaimed water. And now this all together with an integrated system that we are operating. It’s not the end of the way. We always say that now we are safe and we have enough water. But no, there will be other cycles of droughts.

Other cycles of scarcity that we shall overcome. So our work will never end. And we always have to be pioneer in the way that they are thinking and the way that we are supplying solutions to our nations, by the way, to other neighbors.

Antoine Walter: We’ll go into that because I’m super curious about that. I just have one thing which I need to understand.

To this date, the record holder for the number of appearances on that podcast is still Ravid Levy. He was here three times and the third time we specifically went into Israel as the water startup nation. And he referred several times at the role that Mekorot is playing. Playing in the fact that Israel is the water start-up nation.

How would you define that role, especially given your previous position when you were in charge of interacting with our startups? What’s Mekorot’s roles in building that ecosystem?

Yossi Yaacoby: We really think that our challenge in our strategic plan is to build the ecosystem. There is a lot of solution that were tested in our facilities and they were growing to implementation in Israel and abroad.

We think that we are the better side. For all the water sector of Israel. Whenever you would like to test something, come to McElroth. We get the right place, right engineers that will support you. It’s our mission. We think creatively, we think with innovative, and we are trying to support. We know that we doubt macro.

Your ability to grow and to grow overseas is less than 30 or 50%. Working with macro, with the exposure of aut, there’s a red carpet that will be in front of you.

Antoine Walter: When you say exposure of Mekorot, does that translate into pilots, into demonstrations?

Yossi Yaacoby: All the way out, starting with academia, all the research, TRL between 0 to 2, then practical research of all academias in Israel, that is from TRL 2 to 4, then comes the pilots or the labs, the solutions that we are testing.

TRL 4 to 6 and going up to TRL 10, we are covering all the water cycle innovation chain.

Antoine Walter: I guess that defines pretty well an ecosystem. You mentioned how Mekorot was created in 1937. When did the topic of water resilience become prominent?

Yossi Yaacoby: From day zero, always we were struggling. When we started there were only 600, 000 people in Israel or Palestine prior to Israel.

So we were supplying only through local wells. We were growing irreparably. We are immigrant country. We were trying to move fast in order to reach the demand.

Antoine Walter: But within Water Resilience, what I understand is that’s not just planning for the day you’re at, but also planning for the future. Exactly. And you started with a big challenge because you had to build something and to cope with the immigrant country, which Israel is.

So how do you ensure that you stay ahead and you have that advance in phase so that you’re having a clear sight of the future?

Yossi Yaacoby: I will give you one example about the system of Jerusalem. Tell you the old story. 100 years ago, more than 100 years ago, Jerusalem was isolated. The source of water was local.

Reservoirs that were Taking water during the winter and supply it all over the year. Then started with the mandatory with the British, the UK. A line, first line or second line to Jerusalem. It was not enough. We put in place the third line to Jerusalem. It was not enough. Always with a bigger diameter.

Always thinking that the new line will stay for 50, 70 years, 100 years. It’s a joke. Never. Then come the fourth line. The fourth line was during the 90s. And we thought that this line will be enough for the next 50 years. At least the next 50 years. You know, we started the fifth line in 2005. And we hope that this line, which is a huge one, 100 inch and with big station at 13.

5 kilometers. tunnel in the mountains that this line will support us for the next 100 years. I will tell you frankly, I don’t think so. We will have to build the next one. But the vision was always that we are building the solution for the next generation. But there are surprises you can ask. So why you didn’t build initially in the 19 or the 70s, the third and the fourth line?

It’s a 100 inch line. You always, there’s a balance between the investment and the economy. You can’t build for a life forever.

Antoine Walter: What you mentioned here with the costs is a very good transition to the full residence topic, because I’m a water engineer. When I was taught about engineering, we were looking at curves, which were telling us that is an event which might occur every 100 years, every 1000 years, every 10, 000 years, and then.

You had a guideline from the government telling you that you will build that for a 100 year event. So you build for that. But what that doesn’t anticipate for is climate change. With climate change, the 100 year event becomes maybe a 50 year or 30 year event, which means that now your full infrastructure is underdesigned.

And in 2023, so last year, we’ve seen terrible events in Turkey, in Morocco, in Greece, in Libya, and I’m forgetting many more. And those. showed us how sensible it is and how difficult it is to design our infrastructure and to rebuild our infrastructure in these kind of events. Where should we start from a water utility perspective?

What is the first thing we should look at in light of these new challenges posed by climate change?

Yossi Yaacoby: This is the most important and the biggest challenge of every utility, water utility, nowadays. Climate change, It’s aggressive. You have to think differently. And some CEOs of water utility always speak about innovation.

But when you are listening carefully, they are not speaking about innovation. They are speaking about resilient because they would like to implement solution that will support them to be more resilient. And this is the big challenge. You were speaking about this crisis of thinking about Greece last year, 600 millimeter of rainfall.

Within 24 hours, it’s a huge amount of water. There is no water system that can collect it. So now we are coming with a balance. You will never build a water system, a collection of sewers for 600 millimeter water in a one day, because you will have expenditure of huge amount of money and will not be able to use your finance on the right way for providing solution to your customers.

So you have to do some kind of risk management. And you will say loud and clear that when you were thinking about one event in 100 years, no way. It will be one event in 5 or 10 or 20 years. This is the reality. It is changing dramatically. All the engineering calculation, not worth the paper that they are writing on anymore.

We have a very aggressive, aggressive events, and we shall find some way to mitigate the events, but not the most extreme one. We can’t.

Antoine Walter: How do you set the bar? How do you define where to put the threshold?

Yossi Yaacoby: I can say from my point of view that I should be prepared to 150 millimeter Went for a day in Israel.

Why? Because the reason that I saw it in the last 10 years at least 10 times in different places in the coastal places. And we faced it 600 millimeter is taking all our investment budget for new pipes, new public station, new water treatment plant, new wastewater treatment plant, all this in order to mitigate 600 millimeter.

It doesn’t make sense. You always should do some kind of risk management. So it will be 600 millimeter. I will suffer several days, but I will cover.

Antoine Walter: You’re based on your data, which says that. You have 10 times occurrences, 150 millimeter in Israel, so that’s what you designed for yet. I would bet that was 150 are up to what you were seeing 10 or 20 years ago.

It’s it’s probably more extreme. So how does Mekorot roll out a plan inside Israel to deal with those new challenges?

Yossi Yaacoby: First of all, there will be issues with electricity. Very hot days and very cold days. So we are building independent capabilities to supply electricity to our plants. It means more and more use of self diesel generators with ability to store fuel for at least five to ten days in our facility.

There will be an earthquake. We have a very big and strong earthquake in our region every 100 years. We are there. We will face it. In the coming years, we are taking into consideration that might. We will not be able to move. There will be big damages to our plant. So we have a plan to enforce enforcement of our plant, of our cement pools, our pumping station, our line.

We are putting in place on site chlorination for our 50 percent of the drinking water supply. This is a new plan for the coming years. We were speaking about the generators. We are putting in place many reserves pumps in many places. This The way that we are using in our system five sources of water is very good.

We have the desalinated water of the sea that might suffer from tsunamis, but if they will not work, I will have the Sea of Galilee as the surface water, I have the groundwater, and I have the reclaimed water, and I have two sources of groundwater. This is the way. If someone that is coming from a country that depends only on one source of water, I will tell him that he is in a big risk, in a very big risk.

Antoine Walter: What I’m taking home so far is the last thing you said about balanced sources, ensure that you don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. Fact. Makes a ton of sense. And what you were saying before is basically, it will happen. There will be big natural events, but when it happens, you need to ensure that your service continuity is guaranteed as much as possible.

And at least as you return. Too high services as fast as possible. I was just reading a report from the IPCC, which was demonstrating that there’s one thing, which is natural events. But the consequences of the natural events are even worse than the natural event itself. So it means more diseases like diarrhea, cholera, extreme cases like that, because sanitation is shut off and so far and so on.

If I understand you’re right, your role as the National Water Company is to say, Okay. We can’t prevent climate change from happening. We can’t prevent natural events from happening, but we can plan so that when it’s statistically will happen, we will as fast as possible return to normal level of services.

Yossi Yaacoby: You said the most important thing. I assume that even with a very big earthquake with magnitude of more than seven, four, seven, five, seven, six, there will be real mess in Israel. But our role is to be full back in somehow, let’s say 60 to 70 to 80 or 90 percent of capabilities. Within days, not weeks, within days.

This is our target to be a chaos. We understand that it will be a chaos, but we shall recover as soon as we can. This is our target. We should be there and we should be prepared. And this is the thing that we are doing to be prepared. On February last year, we have in one day, several issues. First of all, there was the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, February.

So, there are several places in Israel. Dozens of wells were out of operation because of turbidity. First thing. Secondly, we are in February. February is not a month with a lot of demand. It means that all the maintenance work of the National Carrier has been done in February. So we were cut down with our budget.

Parts of our national carrier. But on the same day, we had a big storm in the sea, not related to the earthquake. Big storm, winter. Barbarous storm it was called, because I remember. And this storm caused a shutdown of four. Of the five big mega desalination plant of the seashore. So imagine we do not have wells, we do not have the main desalination carrier.

We do not have the seawater desalination plant that supplies 60 percent of the drinking water of Israel daily. So we were using in a good way, groundwater, and there was one desalination plant that was still in operation. And we were overcoming this disaster. I can say disaster within 24 hours. This is the reality, we will face different events that might come together and create some bad synergy between events.

And this is the one thing that we should be prepared for.

Antoine Walter: That’s where I’d like to understand the role you want to play in the future because you’ve explained how from day zero. Resilience was part of what you’ve been building. So that means you have this advance, you said 10 years of advance. I would give you more of advance, honestly, but you say 10 years, let’s say 10 years, how do you want to play those cards?

Are you envisioning to be like an advisor for other places or geographies, or do you want to proactively not only advise, but also act upon the advice? What’s your vision there?

Yossi Yaacoby: Very good question. And I will tell you something. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, but also from other places in the world mistakes.

Whenever a public or governmental utilities tried to be an EPC company in other places in the world, they failed. It is not the culture of public or national. Oh, federal utility. It’s a different culture. We are very good in operation. We are very good in building our systems. It is not big advantage to compete with a private market with a thousand of EPCs.

Thousand of finance firms that providing the money to the projects. All utilities from, I will not say the countries, not to offend anyone, but many places in the world, national water companies try to go overseas for projects and fail. So what is the big advantage is the know how, taking the know how and implement it in other places in the world.

If you have some know how of a water supply, take it and implement it. If you know how to build master plan on the right way to province, to states, to a federal level, suggest it. If you know how to suggest how to operate more efficient, take it and train other people. This is our message. We are not going to compete any EPC companies, any supplier of equipment.

We would like to consult, design and train.

Antoine Walter: This is our strength. When you say you would like, does that mean you’ve already started rolling that out? Or is it in the future?

Yossi Yaacoby: No, we started and we have a big success. It’s amazing. We started with a limitation of numbers from our government and we reached these numbers within years.

And now we are doing more and more. And we asked the government if, for example, if they gave us the permit to work for a 1 a year, we’d like to work five or 10 because we have the capacity and we have the need in other places to the world. Countries are calling us. Come and advise us, put in place our master plans.

Will you have a concrete example to share? Yes. For example, we are working in the last three years with Argentina.

Antoine Walter: You said your neighbors, Argentina is a bit of a stretch. Consider your neighbors.

Yossi Yaacoby: I’m thinking about our neighbors. We are working in Argentina in seven province. We did a great job in providing the master plan, how to control and how operate better their air water resources.

And now this with the new regime, they would like us to double the number of province and we will do so. Asking about our neighbors. We were the first company that is, we’re working in Bahrain. We did a very, very good project there. We were designing a seawater desalination plant that they can use the design and now tender it.

Moreover, because we are a unique expertise in brackish water desalination. Inland, we were suggesting them and we are designing a brackish water desalination plant that is very good for emergency situation whenever you have some problem with the sea. And I’m sure that in the coming years they will use it to tenderize it.

We were doing a project for command and control and A little bit with cyber security. It was a great project. I’ve been working with Morocco, but it stopped according to the situation. I am sure that in the coming years it will come again. We are supplying water to Jordan and we are ready to supply more and more.

And if Jordan will ask us some advice, how to use better the water system, we will do it with pleasure. There are no borders for water. Water should be the bridge. And we are ready to work with everybody in the region. We were ready to work with all our neighbors, not as a patronize, but to work together to build better system for the region.

Antoine Walter: It would be a business relationship. You’re, you’re acting as a consultant. So it’s not like neo colonialism. It’s really like,

Yossi Yaacoby: no way, no way. Business consulting that provide them the ability to work better in their countries, taking our very good experience over the years. We’re not decolonized or patronized of anyone.

Always, we are saying when we are going to other countries, we are not coming to give you a lesson. We are coming to work with you. We’re trying to be modest a little bit.

Antoine Walter: You have a clear expertise in some technical fields, like desalination, arid system management, and a lot of the elements you mentioned so far.

I’m wondering one part of this resilience building is around nature based solutions. Is it also something you’re looking into, or would you say, no, that’s, I mean, nature based solutions, if you’re in Ireland is different than if you’re in Israel. So maybe let’s leave that to the green countries.

Yossi Yaacoby: No, we are not giving up a natural solution, by the way.

Still, we think that our groundwater is a sources that we shall keep the only surface water. Source Lake of Galilee is very important. This is the reason that we put in place new things and new approach taking artificial water and supply to a natural water sources, the reverse. national carrier. It’s a new thinking, different thinking.

Lake of Galilee is the only surface water source. It’s a place that all the people of Israel are coming in the summer, in the winter, and would like to enjoy it. It’s a source of water for emergency situations. Whenever the level of the Sea of Galilee is dropping down, the people in Israel is getting upset.

Whenever it’s up like this year, they are very happy. So it’s part of our culture. And the most important thing, whenever you are Christians. You need to see Galilee because Jesus walked on the water. If you lose this place, it will be very upsetting all the Christian people over the world. We are nowadays trying to come alive the rivers again, as it was in the past.

There is a flow of water in many rivers that 10 years ago were dry. In this project of the reverse national carrier, at the end of the project, We are putting the water in a river that flow to the lake of Galilee. This is a river that is, was dry and now is alive and people are coming and swimming and walking through the river.

Antoine Walter: It’s amazing. You mentioned the culture. There’s one thing. In the culture of israel when it comes to water which is always surprising when you look at that from from abroad but which goes back to the socialist roots of the country which is the way water belongs to the states and then the state relocate the water and in retrospect that’s in my opinion.

Very forward looking. Did you see other countries which wanted to have a similar approach or are you a bit the lone ranger on that one? I would tell something.

Yossi Yaacoby: There’s other places like Singapore and others that the water belongs to the government and the state, not the government state.

Antoine Walter: So you’re listing all the good pupils.

So basically there’s a common trait. All the ones which have that system are also the most advanced water systems in the world. So maybe there’s something to learn here.

Yossi Yaacoby: I would tell you something. I was in an event seven years ago in Washington, D. C. There were three panels about conflict around water.

One of them was the Middle East here in Israel with the Palestinians that were speaking together. The first one. Second one was the Mississippi River. And the last one was the Colorado. And we are the first. So. When we were talking about the conflict here, the people that were on the stage were experts in water from the Palestinian side, from the Israeli side, and everything.

We were talking about technology, about engineering. The next two sessions were all only lawyers. You know why? Because in the U. S., you are talking about the water rights, which is a big mess. And they know that it is a big mess. The most important thing that our leaders, the beginning of the country, did is the water law in 1959.

The water law says that every drop of water, every drop of source of water belong to the state. And the state more important thing. What kind of water? They state it clearly. That Desalinated water, artificial water, and wastewater also belong to the state. Imagine 1959 no wastewater plants of activated sl, no reclaimed water system in place, but still wastewater and reclaimed water belong to the states.

This is a big, big, big advantage. That we had all over the years places that not thinking in the same way are losing the control of the water system.

Antoine Walter: I think it’s a lesson of how to be forward looking. In some weeks from now, we will be in London for the Global Water Summit, and you will be running a workshop on water sector resilience.

What are the three main topics which you will bring up in that workshop?

Yossi Yaacoby: It will be, by the way, a great event with great speakers, and I am objective. I would like to say we will focus on three tiers of this issue. Even four, I can say. First of all, The perspective of the utilities, there will be on the stage in one panel, several utilities from different places in the world that speak about their lessons and know who is the moderator.

I’m sure that it would be very good moderator. It’s me. This is one thing. Secondly. We, we show a case study of one of the expert of extreme event from Israel that is working all over the world today. Not in the water necessarily, but we speak about water also, it will speak about the human factor. When always we are speaking about extreme situations and that we are speaking about disasters.

We are speaking about. How much machine would we have? How much lines, how much electricity, and we do not speak about the human fact, the ability to take the right decisions, the stress, the human factor is one of the most important thing in order to be on the successful side and not about the stress. The one that failed.

Last and not least, of course, we’re talking about technology. We’d like to be able to overcome extreme events, disasters. You have to put in place technology about your co engineering and do it split to two. First of all, deep technology solutions. There will be the giant that like Xylem and Swiss that we speak about their capabilities, also micro digital evolution.

And the second thing that we speak there in the same panel is that we will bring innovation. Early stage companies. That comes with solution to a same event. So we’ll recover all aspects of utilities, the human factor, digital solutions, and innovation is all things that come together and create the right synergy for the solutions.

And of course, round table that we will discuss all the things that we’re expecting in the panels.

Antoine Walter: Looking forward to see you there. I have a tricky question for that because I’m forbidding you to answer me everyone. So you can’t answer everyone. Who should. Come and participate in the series of panels, workshops, roundtables, which you just listed.

Yossi Yaacoby: First of all, everybody. No, to be frank, I would like to see first of all, the utilities, because the perspective of the utilities is the most important things. And I think that there’s no wisdom in one place. The wisdom can be taken from all other places. And we are taking the lesson from Greece, Turkey.

Philippines, Morocco, Libya, Japan and our places. So the discussion between utilities is the most important thing. I would like to see the supplier, the providers of solutions that can meet these challenges. I would like to see the innovation side, if the innovative solution, if it’s digital or core engineering solution, I would like to see them.

Companies that are coming with a new approach to this climate change extreme events. And one thing that is very important, I would like to see the consulting firm, the consulting firms are very important because they are the backbones of every water utility. They are the ones that bring in the solution for the development and the investment budget of each utility.

They should understand clearly what is the challenge and they should speak the same. Language of their customers, which are the utilities.

Antoine Walter: Okay, you kind of cheated because you didn’t say everybody, but still you listed me everybody. So I guess I get the message.

Yossi Yaacoby: I can say that the industrial water side is welcome, but it’s not necessarily welcome.

Okay, fair enough. At least one pair that we are not thinking about.

Antoine Walter: That’s a good one. I have a last question for you in that deep dive, which is a bit of a crystal ball question. You explained What you want and can bring in that full elements of building water resilience, building the approach and the water management of the future.

Now, if we look down the line, let’s say 10 years, what do you aim to build in 10 years? What’s the role of Mekorot in that new water paradigm in 10 years? And what will tell you personally that you had an impact?

Yossi Yaacoby: Well, I’m going to put a place, a new plan for Mekorot of being balanced with the energy use.

in the company. It means to offset our energy use with, let’s say, the year of 2050. It’s a huge challenge because we do not operate so many wastewater treatment plants, so we do not have the biogas as part of the reduction of emissions. But I think that there will be a change, and we have to be part of this change.

More green energy, if it’s a PV or a hydroelectrics, We do not have the wind. The wind is not so important here. Other thing that everything that create the change is the use of hydrogen instead of fossil energy sources and production of hydrogen from the water, from reclaimed water. So not using fresh water in order to provide this hydrogen.

Hydrogen is one of the things that will be the next revolution. And I would like to be there and it will help us to offset our energy emissions. And for you personally? I will create and build the innovation R& D center of Mekurot. That will be a national one that will deal with all the aspects. that we were speaking in the last 55 minutes.

Antoine Walter: That would be a great impact. That’s a good target, I guess. Yossi, it’s been a pleasure to have that deep dive with you. To round off these interviews, I’m having a list of rapid fire questions. If that’s fine with you, I’d switch to that last section.

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Rapid fire questions:

Antoine Walter: What is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?

Yossi Yaacoby: The most exciting projects, it’s Line Five to Jerusalem. I came to the project as a upper project management at the end of the project. At the point that they should deliver water. And you know, we never delivered water from the sea level to 800 meter up to Jerusalem, which is the mountains, to 13.

5 kilometer of tunnel of one or two inches with huge pumping stations. And to create this, a solution and to see that it is working, that is solving the water problem of Jerusalem for the next 50 years. It’s amazing. It’s a real vision that comes together. And I was not the one that started this project.

I wasn’t the end of this project. I was being at the end when you are pushing the button and the water is flowing and you know, it’s the first time that we’re supplying. The sated water to Jerusalem. I can imagine. Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way? We were building the, uh, and operating the only governmental seawater essential plant, and we failed at the end of the day.

It was a good project that we saw during the right price, but it was not successful project. And how did you overcome the failure? Uh, we got a very good price when we sold the project and we learned our lesson. As I said, don’t do things that is not. your main expertise.

Antoine Walter: That’s a very good piece of advice.

Is there something you’re doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years?

Yossi Yaacoby: Yes. Using papers, only digital issues. I will be a fully paperless. I’m almost there, but with 10 years, it will be sure.

Antoine Walter: What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?

Yossi Yaacoby: Zero emissions for sure to find them finally.

The solution for brine, less brine and extracts minerals from brine. And of course, wastewater as a source for drinking water. Valid source of drinking water all over the world. After treatment, of course. And all the digital revolution using AI and machine learning in order to To be better in the way that you operate your system, maintenance your system with much less employees.

Antoine Walter: That’s four, but I would subscribe to the four. I keep it. If I instantly became your assistant, what’s the number one task that you delegate to me that would help you out in your job? And I never promised I would do it.

Yossi Yaacoby: One thing enforced me to be more digital guy and I am a digital guy. More, more and more use, more and more advanced solution on my core engineering capabilities.

Last question. Will you have someone to recommend me that I should definitely invite on that microphone? Always. I like the way that Manuel Dorman is working with the Knights. He’s a great guy on the Dutch side of the industry. They’re doing great, great things all over for many years. And I think that from PUB Singapore, it will be very good.

They’re doing a great job.

Antoine Walter: I should not say that because it’s going to. bring me bad vibes, but I was in talks with the chief of staff of, of Minnow yesterday. So that interview should happen at some point. We, we had a short one already, but I want to have a long form with him. So thanks for the recommendation.

You’ll see if people want to follow up with you, what’s the best way for them to do so? Is it to come and attend your workshop at the global summits or. Send you a mail, reach out to you on LinkedIn.

Yossi Yaacoby: Whenever people are reaching for me to the LinkedIn, I’m, I’m, uh, coming back to them with less than 10 hours, even five, sometimes three hours.

Of course, coming to the workshop would be good. I would be pleased to chat with the people on the one on one platform that would be in the middle of merge and on my email, I’m always 44 seven capable to take and answer any question, any thought, and if we would like to work together.

Antoine Walter: As always, if you’re listening to this or watching this, check out the description.

All the links to what Yossi just shared are there, so make sure to reach out on LinkedIn and to come see the workshop and the one on one session. Yossi, it’s been a pleasure to have you on. I hope to continue that discussion at some point in London. We left many doors open. I’m sure there’s much more to dig, especially on the innovation side.

You got me hooked with your R& D and innovation. National Center. I think that’s really something I’d be keen to learn more about. So you have to be back at some point for today. Thanks a

Yossi Yaacoby: lot. It was a great interview from my point of view. I enjoyed. So thank you being a very nice moderator of this. Thank you.

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