H2010 - Rainbows and Scientists in the Clouds

This unique experience was possibly a highlight of the fourth day of the bi-national symposium, a day of practical lectures by the Canadian and Israeli participating scientists.

January 20, 2010 15:26
4 minute read.

WNEW13. (photo credit: KKL)


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On the afternoon of the first really wintry day of the Manitoba Israel Water Experts Symposium, a huge double rainbow spanned the entire . Totally amazed, the scientists quickly disembarked from the bus that was taking them through the Hula Lake Nature Reserve in the pouring rain. The rare and magnificent spectacle made everyone feel as if they were children again and they made no effort whatsoever to repress their cries of joy, accompanied by the clicking of cameras.

This unique experience was possibly a highlight of the fourth day of the bi-national symposium, a day of practical lectures by the Canadian and Israeli participating scientists.

The is the only Israeli counterpart of what is called "wetlands" in . , with its scenic lookouts, observation points and facilities, was restored and developed with the ongoing help of friends of KKL-JNF worldwide. Before and during the visit, symposium participants received detailed explanations about the history of the original , the way it was drained and the ecological ramifications of draining the swamps. Dr. Moshe Gophen and Dr. Doron Markel described how the current project had been carried out, the improvement over the past six years on the quality of the water from and the revival of intensive agriculture in the extensive peat lands of the drained . Another highlight of the day awaited the group at the bird ringing station operating on one of the islands, where they received professional explanations and were actually given demonstrations of bird- ringing by Nadav Yisraeli, the station director. It was very touching to see young Talia Friedman, the daughter of the KKL-JNF development coordinator in , holding on her hand, a little kingfisher that lay on his back perfectly still, until she turned him over - when he flew away.

The magical visit concluded with a meeting over cups of hot cider at the lake's pelican observation spot, as the oncoming evening caused the tens of thousands of cranes who spend the night in the waters of the lake, to increase the volume of their cries.

Before , symposium participants who are not scientists went for a visit to the town of and the city of , as part of KKL-JNF's way to illustrate to its guests the history of the Jewish presence in and the history of the rebirth of the state of and the Zionist movement. The guests visited Rosh Pina's historical buildings and toured through the city of , taking in the mystic, religious atmosphere that permeates its alleyways.

We spoke with Malcolm Conly, a researcher at the National Canadian Water Studies Institute and a member of the regional research committee in . As a devout Christian, he was quite unprepared for his first visit to Israel, coming as he did with religious feelings, a little historical knowledge and several preconceived notions about current affairs in Israel 'that are disappearing from minute  to minute.'  "It's not true at all that people live in fear in . There is absolutely no sense of insecurity. Before I came, I was afraid that I would feel uncomfortable from time to time but that is not the case - the opposite is true!"

Conly, like the other scientists, did not come to as a tourist but for purely professional reasons. "During the symposium, we talk a great deal about the huge difference in size between and . Everybody was saying that alone is bigger than all of . It turns out, however, that although there are some who think we should talk in terms of similar proportions and relate to the entire as compared to the , our discussions focus exclusively on . My feeling is that there is place for a fundamental change in Israeli thinking. When I see how much energy is invested in pumping water from the Kinneret, which is below sea level, to the level of the National Water Carrier, I can't help but compare this to the amount of energy necessary to operate a desalination plant, which would produce a similar amount of water. A way must be found to create a process of regional cooperation for desalination, although I have no idea of how to go about it in the present geopolitical atmosphere."

Conly feels that and have much in common regarding research projects critical for both and . "We share processes connected to the infiltration of chemical pollutants into water sources and bodies of water and there are differences between us, mainly to do with the different climates. The results of your measurements and studies provide us with tools to better understand the processes that are taking place in and to ask ourselves if we are, in fact, doing what we can to implement solutions. From our side, we share our accumulated experience caring for shallow lakes and swamps and data we have amassed in ongoing studies on the influence of agriculture on water quality, the effect of the flow of nitrate compounds from drainage basins to lakes and rivers, water purification processes and use of purified effluents. It turns out that we still have a lot to learn from you about reuse of purified effluents!"

For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail ahuvab@kkl.org.il

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