A program on Thursday, Oct. 15, examined how Israel and the state of Georgia have coped with prolonged water shortages.

The event, “Water: The New Oil…Crisis from Georgia to Israel”, was sponsored by the Jewish National Fund and the Ketura Group of Greater Atlanta Hadassah.

Sam Olens, chairman of the Cobb County commission and the Atlanta Regional Commission, spoke as did Col. Sharon Davidovich, who spent 23 years in the Israel Defense Forces and is now focusing on water issues in Israel.

Mort Mower, inventor of the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, and chair of the Jewish National Fund’s Parsons Water Fund, which is trying to raise $100 million to find new water sources in Israel, also spoke.

Israel is currently facing its worst water shortage in decades, according to the JNF. Water levels in the Sea of Galilee, the country’s main source for fresh water, are so low that there is danger of saltwater encroachment, which would kill plants and wildlife in the sea, according to Israeli press reports.

Israel’s government is building new desalination plants which will meet the country’s demand for fresh water by 2020, Dr. Mower told GlobalAtlanta in an e-mail interview.

While those plants are under construction, one new water source is Turkey, Dr. Mower said. “With the presence in the used ship market of old single-hulled tankers, no longer useful in carrying oil, it is now feasible to ship fresh water from Turkey at a price equal to desalinated water in enough amounts and for as long as needed to get over the crisis,” said Dr. Mower.

Despite recent rains that have replenished lakes and streams, Georgia is still engaged in a court fight with Florida and Alabama over Atlanta’s main water supply, Lake Lanier.

A federal judge, Paul Magnuson, ruled July 17 that Lake Lanier’s major purpose as originally authorized by Congress was navigation, hydro power and flood control, not drinking water for metro Atlanta. Unless Congress acts within three years, metro Atlanta must drastically reduce the amount of water it takes out of Lanier, the judge ruled. Georgia is appealing the ruling while also seeking Congressional action. “Both Georgia and Israel are facing similar scenarios,” JNF Southeast regional director Lauren Mescon said in a news release.