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Has Technology Trumped Adaptive Management? A Review of Israel’s Idiosyncratic Hydrological History

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Adaptive management has been championed as an effective strategy for designing water policy and its implementation. An effective water management strategy, it is argued, must be adaptive and build in an ability to change management practices based on new experiences and insights. While such an approach was not part of official nomenclature, over the years, Israel’s water managers developed a nimble orientation, responding to available data, hydrological exigencies and emerging technological opportunities. This retroactive look at Israel’s water management history through this adaptive paradigm, identifies five distinct stages: Hydro-Socialism, Wastewater Reuse, Water Storage, Conservation and Demand Reduction. Although threats to a reliable supply remain, Israel’s water managers’ ability to adapt to numerous changes enabled a dryland country to flourish, with a highly productive agricultural sector and a plentiful and clean water supply for a rapidly growing population. Israel’s desalination plants are less subject to the stochastic variability of the climate. But Israel will still have to maintain an ‘adaptive management strategy’, albeit with less reason to monitor rainfall and more to monitor geopolitical and environmental threats to a sustainable water supply.
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Keywords: Adaptive management; Israel; desalination; wastewater reuse; water

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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