HADERA, Israel - Israel's third desalination plant is fully operational, after four months of extensive water quality testing.
Built in the northern coastal city of Hadera, it joins the nation's two operational plants, one in Ashkelon, north of the Gaza Strip, and the second in Palmachim, of Tel Aviv.
At full capacity, the Hadera facility will produce 127 cubic meters of water annually. Together, all three plants will provide about 300 cubic meters of water per year.
The Hadera plant is the world's largest reverse osmosis desalination plant. A even larger fourth plant, being built south of the port city of Ashdod, is scheduled to come on line in 2013.
When all five plants are up and running, they could provide as much as two-thirds of the country's potable water.
The desalination facilities will reroute to Mekorot, Israel's national water carrier, which has regulated the country's water supply for 50 years.
It as taken more than $500 million to connect the plants to the country's water system, according to Mekorot.
"Up until now, it was a government monopoly regulating all water transportation," said Teddy Golan, vice president of IDE Technologies, the company responsible for the plant.
"Then we found it was cheaper to desalinate water on the shore than transfer it from the [Sea of Galilee] in the north," he said.
Israel also leads the world in waste water reclamation, recycling 70 percent of its sewage and waste water.
On Sunday, President Shimon Peres took part in the plant's official opening ceremony.
AP contributed to this report.