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Let There Be Water

Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World

Seth M. Siegel; foreword by Secretary of State George P. Shultz

A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 1250115566
ISBN13: 9781250115560

Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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2015 Nautilus Silver Award Winner in Ecology and Environment

Every day brings urgent reports of growing water shortages around the world. The U.S. government predicts that forty of our fifty states—and 60 percent of the earth's land surface—will soon face alarming gaps between available water and the growing demand for it. Without action, food prices will rise, economic growth will slow, and political instability is likely to follow.

Let There Be Water illustrates how Israel can serve as a model for the United States and countries everywhere by showing how to blunt the worst of the coming water calamities. Despite scant natural water resources, a rapidly growing population and economy, and often hostile neighbors, Israel has consistently jumped ahead of the water innovation-curve to assure a dynamic, vital future for itself. Even with 60 percent of its country made of desert, Israel has not only solved its water problem; it also has an abundance of water. Israel even supplies water to its neighbors—the Palestinians and the Kingdom of Jordan—every day.

Let There Be Water tells unknown stories of how cooperation on water systems can forge diplomatic ties and promote unity. Remarkably, not long ago, now-hostile Iran relied on Israel to manage its water systems, and access to Israel's water know-how helped to warm China's frosty relations with Israel.

Based on meticulous research and hundreds of interviews, Let There Be Water reveals the methods and techniques of the often offbeat inventors who enabled Israel to lead the world in cutting-edge water technology.

Seth M. Siegel is available to Skype to classes. For more information, please email


Praise for Let There Be Water

"Insightful . . . an instructive reminder that climate and geography don’t control a state’s destiny. Nature, as it turns out, is not as important as government nurture."—Wall Street Journal

“A must-read that is both fascinating and informative. “San Francisco Chronicle

“With global water shortages generating political, military and humanitarian crises across the globe, Israel's astonishing ingenuity for wresting abundance from drought is an inspiring and instructive blueprint for the planet.”—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“If you are worried about global water shortages—and you should be—read this book. Seth Siegel brings an urgent message of how the world can save itself using remarkable techniques and technology developed in Israel. Let There Be Water is essential reading. I highly recommend it.”—Michael Bloomberg

“A really interesting account of the possibilities for technology to solve one of the greatest and underestimated challenges of our age.”—Tony Blair

“Water scarcity is one of the most urgent threats to our economy and society. In Let There Be Water, Seth Siegel explores the crisis through the lens of a solution, telling the powerful story of how the people of Israel came together to overcome their water problems, so that the rest of the world can learn from their example and get ahead of the looming crisis.”—Arianna Huffington

"Brilliant."—Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

“This extraordinary work will long be read by people grappling with water shortages and other seemingly insurmountable challenges.”—Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of Israel

“From the arid front lines of the freshwater scarcity crisis, Siegel provides an eye-opening account how Israel turned adversity into opportunity to become an innovative pioneer in the global quest for a new water paradigm.”Steven Solomon, author of WATER: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

Let There Be Water is an essential look at the unknown story of how Israel has avoided the coming global water crisis despite being mostly desert. Through smart policies, conservation, technology and a new water-focused export industry, this book shares water-independent Israel's lessons that every interested citizen and country needs to know.”—Dan Senor, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Start-Up Nation

Let There Be Water is the expertly and movingly told story of how Israeli specialists and NGOs greatly helped many Africans gain access to clean water. Seth Siegel shows how Israel uses its water skills both to help developing nations and as a tool of diplomacy. We all have so much to learn from this superb book.”—Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda

"Let There Be Water is an important work of non-fiction, a story that needs to be told. There are lessons in here for everyone."—Former U.S. Senator Mark L. Pryor

Let There Be Water is timely, hugely important, and highly readable. The book, remarkably, contains important supplemental reading for many academic and technical fields, including courses in engineering, public policy, agriculture and business. The author brings to life the nearly forgotten heroes who made Israel, a major exporter of agricultural products in a region that ranges from semi-arid to desert, and who made the country fully self-sufficient in water. The rest of the world—and students everywhere—have much to learn from this book.”—Professor Solomon W. Golomb, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, University of Southern California

Let There Be Water is a terrific read for engineering students and anyone interested in how technological innovation can change the world. This book deserves to be on the reading list whenever infrastructure, water resources or planning for society’s future is discussed. Seth M. Siegel presents a uniquely insightful view of the scientific, geopolitical, and economic dimensions of water supply in the Middle East. The book provides plenty of examples to demonstrate the complexity and interdisciplinary perspective that is necessary to understand and ultimately solve the planet’s looming water supply crises.”—Laura J. Steinberg, Syracuse University, Dean, School of Engineering

Let There Be Water is a meticulously researched resource, appropriate and useful for all my students, be they Earth Science undergraduates, Masters' students in sustainability management, or PhD candidates in engineering. As a reader, it's a fascinating, well-told story that is hard to put down. Few resources are both so engaging and so richly informative—required reading for all of my students.”—Professor Jonathan E. Nichols, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Barnard College

“The thoroughly researched, well-written, and readable Let There Be Water is an excellent vehicle for educating university students and stimulating dialogue on the complexities and opportunities associated with addressing water challenges around the globe.”—Professor Sharon B. Megdal, Director, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center

Let There Be Water shows what is possible when a nation accepts the centrality of nature’s limits, then gives visionary people the resources to innovate. Seth M. Siegel’s story is an antidote to despair, reminding us all that our greatest natural resource is human ingenuity. I plan on adding the book to my course reading list.”—Professor Eric Olson, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

“As we scramble to provide water and sanitation for the planet’s burgeoning population, Let There Be Water shares the captivating stories behind one country’s practical solutions to the full array of hydrological challenges. It is important that those of us teaching natural resource management share author Seth M. Siegel’s optimistic message: providing water is a fascinating endeavor and through trial and error, scientific innovation and political will, water scarcity can be overcome.”—Professor Alon Tal, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Let There Be Water is a powerful tool for scholars and students alike in better understanding water scarcity and the Blue Revolution. Seth M. Siegel presents an essential—and intriguing—case study of how Israel tackled the problem of its water scarcity.”—Professor Jeffrey K. Sosland, American University, author of Cooperating Rivals: The Riparian Politics of the Jordan River Basin

Let There Be Water is a fascinating account of Israel’s decades-long efforts to wring every last drop out of the resources available to it. Seth M. Siegel brings to life the half-forgotten, bold and ingenious personalities who made the country a world leader in water management. This book will be a valuable addition to the syllabi of courses on modern Israeli history and no doubt to many others as well.”—Allan Arkush, Professor of Judaic Studies and History, Binghamton University

“In the last 50 years, one place has taken water scarcity and turned it into water abundance—Israel. The Israelis did it with science, skill, and by thinking 50 years ahead. Seth M. Siegel’s book Let There Be Waterpieces together the surprising story of how Israel made itself into a ‘water superpower’ with clarity, with verve, and most important, with a sense of hope for everyone else facing water problems.”—Charles Fishman, New York Times bestselling author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life & Turbulent Future of Water

"Let There Be Water will change the way you think about Israel. Don’t miss it."Lloyd Goldman, American Associates Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President

"A great read that addresses our water challenge."George P. Bush, Texas Land Commissioner

“Israel’s determination to create water security is a half-century-long lesson in the liberating economic power of smart water, and a vivid illustration that scarcity doesn’t need to lead to deprivation. It can often drive exactly the opposite: innovation and even abundance.”American Associates, Ben-Gurion University's Impact magazine

“This excellent, well-researched book enumerates the numerous 'bullets' Israel fired in its successful quest for water independence. Additionally, it offers the lessons learned in Israel as models for the world as climate change and population growth continue to stress the global supply of fresh water.”San Diego Jewish Book World

“A fact-filled and wholly fascinating account of the Jewish homeland’s ways with water.”Jewish

"This smart, engaging, and extremely feel-good book tells one of the stories that best illustrates how Israel consistently turns crises into opportunities and challenges into victories . . . Siegel’s accessible handling of technological issues, his focus on key individuals inside and outside of government, and his boundless enthusiasm for Israel’s accomplishments and international leadership make Let There Be Water a highly appealing read."Jewish Book Council

“Fascinating account . . . A major contribution to this hotly debated issue and to broader questions of environmental policy.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“With current drought conditions across Western North America, this hard-won water wisdom should be of interest to concerned readers.”Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Seth M. Siegel; foreword by Secretary of State George P. Shultz

SETH M. SIEGEL is a writer, businessman, lawyer, and activist. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. A founder of several successful companies, in partnership with industry and government, he found that technological innovation holds the key to averting the worst of the coming water shortages. Siegel lives in (water-abundant) New York City.

(c) Talia Siegel

Seth M. Siegel

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