By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, reporter
Israel’s water industry sees Cebu as a potential market for desalination technology to address water shortages, Israel’s economic attache in Manila said.
“Cebu has water shortages…and one of the (solutions) to that may be desalinated water…Israel has a lot of experience here. We have five desalination plants…we think this experience can be very relevant for a place like Cebu,” Tomer Heyvi, economic attaché and head of the Manila Embassy’s economic mission, told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the Israel Water Technologies Roadshow.
Global water solutions provider, Global Environmental Solutions, and Aqwise Vice President for Business Development and Sales, Harel Rauch, said at the same event that the Philippines is seen as a “very attractive market”.
He said it’s “one of the markets where we want to develop operations… We think it’s really suited for (Israeli) technology and will be one of the countries that will be part of our strategy for the next few years.”
“We will start with partnerships with local companies and after that we will see whether we want to open an office or not based on the operations, but we really think it’s a country to focus on,” he added added.
Mr Heyvi said the Israel Foreign Trade Authority plans to invite a Filipino delegation in July to demonstrate its various water management technologies in view of potential partnerships with Filipino companies.
“We are planning to bring a large delegation from the Philippines to Israel to see first-hand how desalination plants, sewage treatment plants and how water is managed in Israel,”
He described the plan to visit the delegation as a big project for the next year.
“In Israel, we see the Philippines as a potential market and partner for water cooperation,” he added. “I think this delegation will attract the attention of their Israeli counterparts.”
“Each community has its own response in the event of a water shortage,” he said, noting that one of the highlights of the tour could be a visit to “the second largest desalination plant in the world.”
He also praised “the efficiency of water management at the community level.”
Invited to participate are Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure you’re well equipped to achieve water efficiency,” Mr. Heyvi said, noting that Israel can offer cost-effective water leak detection solutions, among other things.
Last week, Israel brought its first water delegation to Manila since the pandemic began. Seven leading Israeli water technology companies met with their Filipino counterparts during their week-long stay.
“We know that some (Philippine water companies) are already using Israeli technology such as control valves, pressure valves and water meters,” he said.
The collaboration is “already happening, but looking ahead, we brought this delegation from Israel because we believe there are certain areas that we can definitely tap into,” he added. “One of them is desalination.”
Mr. Rauch said the Philippines needed to expand its wastewater treatment capacity.
“They don’t treat all the wastewater,” he said. “You need to improve your wastewater treatment so you can achieve, shall we say, cheaper desalination. Normally wastewater treatment requires energy, but today with new technology and new processes you can switch (to an energy positive attitude).”
“I think that’s something that could be relevant here because of the rising energy costs and all that,” he added. “That might be something we need to implement in the Philippines.”
Desalinated seawater is the second-largest source of drinking water in Israel, whose five plants draw water from the Mediterranean Sea, with a capacity of 660 million cubic meters of freshwater a year, Heyvi said.
Israel also claims world leadership in water reclamation, he added, as 87% of its water is treated and reused. Recycled water is the main source of water for Israel’s agriculture, which accounts for 55% of water consumption.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which holds a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Filipino units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through its controlled Philippine Star Group.