MEKOROT, the state-owned Israeli water company, has retreated from its ambition to enter the desalination business. Last week, an expose on the company’s finances revealed its $330 million debt accrued over the course of the past decade. Delays with the company’s construction and reports of poor operation of a desalination plant in Ashdod form a significant part of its financial burden. The facility, worth roughly $444,800,000, went into operation last year—four years behind schedule—and has yet to work at full capacity due to faulty engineering and construction. This has meant that the plant has been losing money for the company, rather than generating income, and has led to an arbitration between itself and the EPC contractor, IVM, a partnership between Sadyt and Minrac Holdings.
Mekorot’s board is considering selling all projects belonging to its subsidiary, Mekorot Development & Enterprise. Meanwhile, government officials are attempting to see if they can prevent the company’s dissolution. They are scheduled to meet with a consortium of Israeli lenders and the European bank for Reconstruction and Development, to develop a strategy for repaying company debt.
NINE out of ten people in California are said to be in favor of desalination, according to a recent statewide poll. And nearly eight percent of Californians are “more likely” to vote for a candidate who supports seawater desalination. The poll, conducted by Tulchin Research, suggests that voters’ enthusiasm for desalination was relatively equal across the political spectrum—from Democrats to Republicans and Independents.
EVOQUA Water Technologies is upgrading its SeaCURE ballast water management systems to meet the new September 2017 regulations for ship-owners in the U.K. A core component of its ballast system is the company’s next generation electro-chlorination cell technology. To prepare for an anticipated hike in orders, the company’s UK production facility has made some upgrades, creating a new compressed air system, dedicated welding bays, and upgraded testing facilities; while also optimizing component and assembly lines and warehouse capacity.
A NEW MEMBRANE may change “the economics of desalination plant operation and maintenance.” In 2014, Professors Nidal Hilal of Swansea University and Raed Hashaikeh of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute developed a microfiltration membrane which they have since turned into a self-cleaning nanofiltration membrane. As reported in Water World, the membrane may potentially provide a “solution to the problem of the unwanted build-up of organic and inorganic deposits on a membrane’s surface.” But with further testing and wider applications still pending, this remains to be seen.
IN DOHA, QATAR, the newly expanded Ras Abu Fontas A3 desalination facility has become the country’s first desalination facility to use reverse osmosis technology. Till now, the country has relied on thermal desalination technologies to generate potable water. The project, constructed by Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, cost $480.6 million to complete.
 Avi Bar-Eli, “Israel’s Mekorot Amasses Debt as Ambitious Desalination Project Goes Sour,” Haaretz, May 7, 2017, <http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-1.787772> accessed May 7, 2017.
 “Poll: Californians Strongly Support Seawater Desalination,” Water World, May 5, 2017, <http://www.waterworld.com/articles/2017/05/poll-californians-strongly-support-seawater-desalination.html> accessed May 7, 2017.
 “Evoqua Upgrades Production of Ballast Water Systems,” Desalination.biz, 19 April 2017, <https://www.desalination.biz/news/0/Evoqua-upgrades-production-of-ballast-water-systems/8726/> accessed April 28, 2017.
 “Self-Cleaning Desalination Membrane Development Accelerates in Wales,” April 26, 2017, Water World, <http://www.waterworld.com/articles/wwi/2017/04/self-cleaning-desalination-membrane-development-accelerates-in-wales.html> accessed May 6, 2017.
 Tom Freyberg, “RAF Extension Starts Qatar’s Journey from Thermal to RO Desalination,” Water World, May 2, 2017, <http://www.waterworld.com/articles/wwi/2017/05/raf-extension-starts-qatar-s-journey-from-thermal-to-ro-desalination.html> accessed May 6, 2017.