By Anat Kartaginer M.Sc.
The annual Water Conference of the Israeli Water Association, the largest event of its kind in Israel’s water community, this year focused on long-term issues related to the water system and the environment. During the conference, a wide range of water and water environment-related topics, at the research, planning, implementation and operational levels, were presented. The conference, held at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, was organized by the Israeli Water Association, a professional and inter-disciplinary volunteer organization that actively collaborates with other parties engaged in the field of water, helping them liaise for the purpose of exchanging information, discussions and problem solving.

The Association represents Israel in the International Water Association (IWA), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). The Association has hundreds of members from academia, design and consulting firms, industry, economics, management, operation, media, government institutions, etc. Its central goal is to serve as a professional center for all the institutions and organizations involved in water, with an emphasis on the implementation of advanced technologies and improving the operation and maintenance of water treatment systems. The conference is held in collaboration with additional associations, such as the Israel Water Workers Association, the Israel Desalination Society and Israel Association of Water Resources.

Selected lectures

Forty-five lectures were given in eight sessions dealing with topics ranging from water in the Middle East, preparing for climate change, and restoration of water sources, to technologies and management of the water system in Israel. As part of the Technologies session, the lecture A Groundbreaking Approach to Detecting Water Events presented proper learning technology, in which a software algorithm constructed a database of past observations for a behavioral profile of a certain water quality. When the system identified unusual or abnormal behavior, a warning was activated; after the warning was classified by a human operator, the event was entered into the database to be used for future study and response purposes. This system has already been implemented in several projects in Israel, and is in advanced examination stages by the US EPA.

Another Technologies lecture dealt with increasing the operational reliability of UF and MF membranes in seawater desalination facilities using advanced pre-filtering technologies. Presented were findings and data from 10 seawater desalination pilot projects – in Israel, the US and Hong Kong – in which an automatic disc filter was operated to protect UF and MF membranes. In one facility, in which the water contained high levels of suspended material, seashell remains and seaweed, addition of the pre-filter to the system significantly improved the operating results of UF and MF membranes produced by five different manufacturers. In another pilot project, the presence of seashell chips and splinters damaged the integrity of the system’s membranes. At all the sites, it was found that a 100-micron pre-filter prevented penetration of larvae into the pipes, thus reducing the development of colonies and biological activities on the internal surfaces of the facilities equipment, including the membrane containers and the membranes themselves. Proof of economic feasibility of integrating this technology as a pre-filtering step for UF and MF membranes in seawater resulted in several membrane plants adopting the pre-filtering system.

Yet another lecture focused on developing biogas and bacterial gas cells for treatment of waste and generation of the energy contained within them. This technology is based on integrating a biological reactor for waste treatment with an electromechanical system that produces energy from oxidation of dissolved organic material. An electro-chemical system was installed inside the biological reactor and included three main components: anode, cathode and electrical circuit. On the anode, a unique population of microbes developed and the microbes created a biofilm. They oxidized the organic material in the wastewater and emitted carbon dioxide, as well as protons into the water, and electrons to the anode. The microbes exhibited a unique mechanism that enabled them to use the anode as the final receptor of the electrons, instead of oxygen. The electrons flowed along an electrical circuit to the cathode. In the cathode, atmospheric oxygen penetrated by diffusion through a special coating and reacted with the protons that were created in the anode to receive water. Thus, the dissolved organic material in the wastewater was broken down without investing any energy, and served as a source of energy by setting up electrical voltage.

Other lectures featured subjects such as water agreements in the Middle East peace process, the repercussions of global warming on water levels in the Middle East, the impact of climate change on water sources in Israel, and restoration of water sources in Israel. Additionally, models for assessing the risks of contamination of drinking water wells by environmental pollutants were presented as well as the vision, in this context, of the Israeli Ministry of Health.

Summary

The annual Conference of the Israeli Water Association presented a diverse range of subjects related to water and the water environment. This year’s conference included 45 lectures, delivered in eight sessions, including the opening lecture given by the President of IWA and her deputy, and the Minister of National Infrastructure. The lectures delivered at the conference covered topics such as water in the Middle East, preparing for climate change, restoration of water sources, technologies and management of the water system in Israel. The conference attendance was estimated at 350.

About the author

Anat Kartaginer is the Water Section Manager of Strauss Water, Emek Haela, Israel and a member of WC&P’s Technical Review Committee. She can be reached by phone, +972 2 990 0222, fax +972 2 990 0500, or email anat@tami4.co.il or visit www.tanawater.com.

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