Israel has overcome the scarcity of naturally occurring freshwater through the deployment of technology and a holistic approach to water management. Large desalination plants, use of reclaimed water by the agricultural sector, irrigation efficiency, and water conservation have changed the water balance in Israel from one of deficit to adequacy or even surplus. Yet, water challenges remain. The Dead Sea continues to decline. The Lower Jordan River and other rivers continue to be the focus of rehabilitation efforts. Wastewater flows remain a problem in some areas. In this presentation, Prof. Sharon B. Megdal will explain how Israel has addressed the scarcity of freshwater and how the lessons learned by Israel can assist us here in the Southwest as we deal with low flows on the Colorado River and growing population. She will discuss collaborative efforts involving Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. She will also address what she sees as some challenges and barriers to water cooperation. Her presentation will include reflections on her most recent visit to the region with the Mexican and U.S. Commissioners of the International Boundary and Water Commission and even more recent efforts to foster dialogue and professional exchanges.
Prof. Sharon B. Megdal (Ph.D. Princeton) is Director of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center and Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science. Among her many other positions are affiliate faculty member for the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and Advisory Board member for the UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Sharon works on water policy and management locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Since 2006, she has worked on understanding Israel’s water management strategies and exploring the applicability of Israel’s approaches here in the Southwestern U.S. She has made over one dozen trips to Israel and several to Jordan. Her 2013 edited book, Shared Borders, Shared Waters: Israeli-Palestinian and Colorado River Basin Water Challenges, emanated from a UA-hosted workshop predicated on the role of “science diplomacy” in resolving difficult water-related issues. Current work includes transboundary aquifer assessment at the U.S.-Mexico border, water recharge and banking, and groundwater governance. Sharon endeavors to be a bridge herself and works to connect the university and non-universities communities and engage people in learning about water. An elected official, Sharon represents Pima County on the board of directors for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the body responsible for operating the Central Arizona Project.