A South African-born Israeli water expert, Dr Clive Lipchin, from the Arava Institute, shared experiences and lessons with water researchers, public water utility experts and ordinary community members. Lipchin spoke on Tuesday, 13 February at a Water Symposium held at The Great Park, in Johannesburg.
Lipchin shared that “in the mid-1990s, Israel was where Cape Town, South Africa and many places are. We were in a very significant drought and all of our stocks, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, groundwater aquifers were all basically collapsing.”
This was a turning point, says Liphchin, as Israel realised that it could no longer “mange water as stock. You have to think about managing water as a flux, and you have to think about water as a commodity.” Lipchin says although it is necessary to think of water as a basic human right, we must however, also understand that “water is not free, it costs a lot, not for the water, but managing water costs money, treating it, storing it, pumping water – all of that costs money.”
Lipchin believes it is important to treat water as a commodity, “because if you don’t, you never get to the point of figuring out what are all the solutions that are out there.”
Honing in on the water crisis in Cape Town and South Africa, Lipchin said he has not doubt that South Africa will be able to find a solution, ands says the “advantage here is that you do not have to start from zero, it is happening all around the world, you can look at Israel, Australia, Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong – there are many good examples out there, and Israel is just one of them.”
You can watch an excerpt of Clive Lipchin’s talk below: