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Durban - South Africa and Israel had a lot more in common than people thought, including a shortage of water, the new Israeli ambassador said in Durban on Wednesday.
And with Israel having come up with innovation technologies and solutions to its problems, ambassador Arthur Lenk has now extended an invitation to eThekwini water and sanitation officials to attend the global Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition Conference (Watec) in Tel Aviv later this month.
“Our two democracies were born out of tragedy and both countries have some really tough dilemmas, but often we have solutions for each other,” Lenk said on his first visit to Durban since being appointed ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho, Mauritius and Swaziland two months ago.
“Some of the experiences and solutions that we have with our own water issues could be relevant and useful… and we want to share our success with our friends,” Lenk said.
“We desalinate water, recycle water and the water we recycle we use for agriculture. We don’t water in the day, we use drip-irrigation – with every drop of water going exactly where it is meant to go.”
Although Israel was a tiny country of 8 million people in a “really complicated area”, it had areas of excellence that would make its relationship with South Africa more interesting, he said.
Neil McLeod, the head of the city’s water and sanitation department, said later that although he would be unable to go to Watec and its innovation centre himself, someone from the city would go.
“They (Israelis) have got a lot of technology that we would be interested in seeing, particularly when it comes to the reuse of water. The ambassador spoke about a device that can detect illegal connections remotely. We have 40 000 illegal connections that we know of,” he said.
Lenk also told McLeod about water being moved around the city that generated electricity with the help of small turbines. The Israelis also generated gas energy from sewage treatment, and as Durban was about to go out to tender for this, the city would be interested to “see what they have got”, McLeod said.
Lenk said he liked what he had seen in Durban, particularly the beach.