BGU water research experts offer smart strategies for sustainable water solutions

Israel is a pioneer in innovative safe-water solutions and continues to provide solutions for the water crisis across the globe. The Zuckerberg Institute at Ben-Gurion University is a major part of this research effort and stands out among the global water research community.
Illustration Photo Credit: Shutterstock

With today's water crisis comes the realization that water is now as precious a commodity as what we once considered oil to be. While smart water use and awareness of our personal and industrial water footprint is key to improvement, we must continue to push the boundaries of science and technology in order to secure a water-safe future.

One institution stands out among the worldwide water research community for doing just that: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research.

Whether due to necessity (67% of Israel is covered by desert) or the country's general enthusiastic approach toward scientific and technological innovation, Israel has become a world leader in sustainable water solutions.  

Professor Noam Weisbrod, the genial head of BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute, and his team of 21 faculty members, as well as some 25 Ph.D. students and 50 graduate students, are currently conducting experiments to turn seawater, brackish water and even wastewater into usable water faster and cheaper than it is currently.

Seawater Desalination

In Israel, seawater desalination accounts for 60 percent of the total freshwater supply.  It goes without saying that they have some valuable insights into this process! Yet the labs at the Zuckerberg Institute continue to perfect membranes and filters to turn seawater into fresh water.

Graywater reuse Photo Credit: Ben-Gurion University

Saline Groundwater Desalination

The Zuckerberg Institute's researchers found another innovative solution for producing safe drinking water. Their study, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology, determined that brackish (saline) groundwater from coastal aquifers is a better alternative water source than seawater for reverse osmosis (RO) desalination due to reduced membrane fouling and pre-treatment costs.

Graywater Solutions

The process of turning wastewater generated in households or office buildings (except for toilet wastewater) is known as graywater. But for years, many people questioned the safety of graywater for irrigation, wondering if it posed a risk for gastrointestinal illness or water-related diseases.

A study conducted by BGU's Zuckerberg Institute confirmed that treated graywater for irrigation is safe and does not cause gastrointestinal illness.

The study, published in the online journal Science of the Total Environment (Elsevier), determined that there was no additional incidence of gastroenteritis or water-related diseases caused by the use of treated graywater in gardens, even when compared to tap water and other irrigation water sources.

Israel is a pioneer in innovative safe-water solutions and continues to provide solutions for the water crisis across the globe. The Zuckerberg Institute’s work provides a window into how Israel leads the world in managing water — and what other countries can learn from them.

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About The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research

The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Israel’s largest and leading water institute, conducts interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research and graduate education in water sciences, aimed at improving human well-being through technologies and policies for sustainable use of water resources. World-renowned Zuckerberg researchers are focused on desalination technologies and groundwater production, water quality and microbiology, as well as water resource economics and management. Zuckerberg graduate programs attract students from all corners of the world who are involved in research projects and collaborations in both developed and underdeveloped countries. Named after New York philanthropist Roy J. Zuckerberg, the Institute was founded in 2002 within the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at the Sede-Boqer Campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. For more information, visit www.aabgu.org/water



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