1684 purification plant KKL.
(photo credit: )
"The desert landscape of the western Negev, so beautiful and green at this time of year, provides the perfect backdrop for the Sderot water reservoir project, named for Natan Parsons, who passed away only ten months ago." KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler was speaking at a ceremony marking the start of work on the newest water reservoir near Sderot, which will store purified effluents from Sderot and nearby kibbutzim, channeling the recycled water for agriculture. The project was enabled through the dedication and support of Natan and Amy Parsons, from Boston, Massachusetts, friends of KKL-JNF America.
"When I was introduced to Natan three years ago, I met a former kibbutznik who talked about water, Israel and his dreams. Although he is not here with us now, his spirit, wishes and passion are very much present. Israel is in the midst of a severe water crisis. Apart from the insufficient rainfall over the past few years, water that Nature intended to flow into Lake Kinneret is being diverted by Syria and Lebanon and in addition, Israel supplies water to Jordan as stipulated by the peace agreement. I call upon the entire Jewish people to follow Natan and Amy's example and to work on solving Israel's water problem together with us.
"As we are sitting, I have just been informed that two Kassam missiles fell not far from here. The city of Sderot and the local kibbutzim are really suffering, not only because of eight years being bombarded by missiles, but also economically. The new Sderot water reservoir is very important for the region, because water means life and without water, no one can live here.
"I would like to thank JNF America and KKL-JNF's Southern Region for undertaking this project. Natan Parsons accomplished many things during his life and this reservoir with the integral approach to the surrounding area is the perfect expression of Natan's vision and dreams. I look forward to seeing you all at the dedication ceremony."
Meir Brukental, director of the Sderot Sewage Water Association, described some of the project's specifications. "As Stenzler said, Israel is in the midst of the worst water crisis since Independence. We are reaching a situation where we will be unable to irrigate existing agricultural crops, let alone to plant anything new. This reservoir, which is scheduled for completion in October 2009, will provide 2,000,000 desperately needed cubic meters of water to the region. It is the region's flagship project, and Natan was involved in every stage of the planning, to the minutest details. There have been many partners to the realization of his vision and I would especially like to mention JNF America and KKL-JNF for their ongoing commitment to this project and to the region in general."
Mayor of Sderot, David Bouskila, said that the city of Sderot and the local kibbutzim have been partners to much suffering over the past eight years: "We are sharing the pain of the missiles and now, thanks to KKL-JNF, we will be partners to hope for the future. We intend to use some of the reservoir's water to make our city greener. Yesterday everyone in Sderot was talking about the new secure indoor playground that was built by JNF America, and today people are talking about the reservoir. We look forward to future cooperation, this is only the beginning."
Alon Shuster, head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, agreed with the Sderot mayor. "We are all partners to the struggle against terror and against its goal of forcing us to leave our homes here. Projects like this remind our neighbors in Gaza that we are here to stay. Thanks to this reservoir, the Shikma stream will no longer be polluted, a point about which Natan insisted. This is our responsibility to future generations, and I would like to thank KKL-JNF for focusing its attention on Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev."
Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF America, reminded everyone that this project was part of a greater picture. "If we look in the direction of Sderot, we can see the army blimp monitoring those in Gaza whose intention is to hurt and destroy. Our intent is to build, to make the region green and to bring life. Let's not forget that one of the reasons for the water crisis is that Israel now has 7,000,000 citizens to take care of, as compared to 600,000 when Israel first came into being. I would also like to especially thank Amy Parsons, who is what I would call "a model for leadership." Her work is about taking the next step forward, even in the face of tragedy and adversity, and doing it quietly, which was Natan's way, also."
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler presented Mrs. Parsons with a unique silver pin and invited her to join everyone for the ribbon-cutting. Refreshments were served, and we spoke with Colonel (Res) Sharon Davidovich, KKL-JNF emissary to Boston: "I first met Natan in 2002, when, in spite of his illness, he had become very active in KKL-JNF. He believed that Israel, thanks to its high level of technological development and innovation, should become the world center of advanced water technology. He insisted that besides building a reservoir, the entire local eco-system be taken into consideration. The present-day sewage purification plant will be upgraded so that the recycled water it produces will be of such high quality that it can be used for all sorts of agriculture. The new Sderot reservoir will be connected to the Or Haner reservoir that we see in the distance so, as a result, the sewage water will be diverted from the Shikma stream, where it is being channeled. This means that not only will the stream be restored, but also that polluted water will no longer seep through the ground into the underground aquifer. The restored stream will then become a tourist attraction. That was Natan, he thought of everything."
The participants included the JNF America Purim Solidarity mission, who hurried to Sderot after the ceremony, where they participated in a festive outside Purim carnival, in the hope that the Color Red alarm that warns of an impending missile attack would not be sounded.
Before everyone left, we had an opportunity to speak with Mrs. Amy Parsons, who said that the word "visionary" was the best way to describe her late husband: "Natan grew up in Kfar Blum, so he always had an awareness of the need to conserve water. He was an inventor. In 1980, after he had moved to the United States, he invented faucets and toilets that stop the water flow as soon as it was not being used - and he did that way before the public's awareness about water conservation. Although he headed large companies and systems, he always put the individual first. He was a 'dream merchant' who tried to do things in the most correct manner possible. The integral approach he took to the Sderot water reservoir project is a perfect example of his way of relating to life and a most fitting tribute to his memory."
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