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Israeli water-tech fund to invest in desalination

Israel, which has had desalination plants for over 50 years, is on the cutting edge of water technologies.

If you'd like to get a feel for cutting-edge water technologies, go to Israel, a densely populated country that gets only four to six inches of rain a year.

Stanford Venture Capital Holdings on Monday said it has committed $10 million to Israel-based AquAgro Fund, a division of Gaon Agro Industries.

Israeli newspaper Globes reported Tuesday that the AquAgro Fund made its first move, a $4 million investment in Advanced Desalination Technologies.

The AquAgro fund plans to invest in different technologies, including filtering and water recycling, as well as computerized irrigation systems.

Water scarcity is often cited as a dangerous effect of climate change and remains a source of political tensions in different regions of the world like the Middle East. Israel shares water with its neighbors by treaty.

If Israel does not manage its water properly, it will only have enough water for domestic use and not enough for agriculture by 2025, said Shimon Tal, the former water commissioner of Israel and an investor in the area who spoke in Newton, Mass., last November. If all the effluents were treated and used for agriculture, by 2020 Israel will still need 50 percent more water, he said.

But despite the persistent need for clean water, it remains one of the quieter areas within the booming clean-tech sector, in part because municipalities are cash-strapped by basic infrastructure upgrades.

There are companies that have technologies for desalination, such as Nano H2O, or wastewater treatment, but the overall investment is far smaller than solar or biofuels.

Some companies, like GE, are trying to cut down on the amount of energy that's needed for desalination, which is significant portion of the cost. Disposal of the briny residue is also a concern.

Other technology trends include quality monitoring and high-tech membranes for purification.