(photo credit: )
On Tuesday, 13th January 2009, KKL-JNF dedicated the Ma'ayan Tzvi water reservoir in the north of Israel. The reservoir, which cost NIS 25 million to build, will provide twelve million cubic meters of purified effluents to irrigate local agricultural fields thereby alleviate the water shortage in Israel.
Participating in the opening ceremony were Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Infrastructure, Professor Uri Shani, Director of the Israel Water and Sewage Authority, Carmel Sela Head of the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council, Gershon Avni, director of KKL-JNF's Land Development Authority, and senior KKL-JNF officials.
In an earlier conversation, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stentzler noted that "the agricultural fields continuing existence is vital and critical for the State of Israel. This is why we have built over 200 water reservoirs, which provide more than 40% of the water needed for agriculture. This reservoir, along with its 'twin sister' and the sewage purification plant located next to it, brings triple gain: they collect the sewage of the Carmel beach communities, thereby averting pollution of the streams and the ocean; they provide water for agriculture for the farmers; and lastly, they harvest the floodwaters of Nahal Dalia, thus increasing the water in the reservoirs and improving its quality."
Moshe Cohen, director of KKL-JNF Projects Development, mentioned at the ceremony that "to date, KKL-JNF has built 202 reservoirs. We are now working on the Betarim reservoir in the south and next week, we will be dedicating the Sarona reservoir."
The building of this reservoir, comprising two pools that store 12,000,000 cubic meters of water, was accomplished in two stages. In 2002, Ma'ayan Tzvi A was completed, at a cost of nine million shekels. This reservoir provides four million cubic meters of water and was built with the help of friends of KKL-JNF Italy. The completion of Ma'yan Tzvi B is celebrated at this ceremony.
Binyamin Ben Eliezer, spoke about the proposed slashing of water quotas for agriculture and gardens. "Together with building reservoirs, we will also build desalination facilities throughout the country, besides recycling effluents. Israel is a world leader in terms of the amount of sewage it recycles. This water project is important for the future of this region and for our children's future. I would like to congratulate everyone who made the reservoir possible, particularly KKL-JNF."
The head of the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council, Carmel Sela, said: "This is a very moving ceremony. The people who have assembled here are modest people, lovers of Israel and lovers of the Land. I would first like to congratulate KKL-JNF, Dr. Omri Boneh and the entire team of KKL-JNF's Northern Region. Only a combination of KKL-JNF energies, the Water Authority and the other organizations involved will make this region flower. As farmers we cannot live without water."
Gershon Avni added "This project reflects how KKL-JNF activities are expressed through its three colors: green for the forests that cover the local mountains; brown for communities, for whom we have paved roads, prepared the land for agriculture and built sewage infrastructure, enabling farmers to live off the land; and blue for the water. KKL-JNF's 202 reservoirs store about 150 million cubic meters of water. Since each reservoir usually has two filling cycles, this means we are talking about 300 million cubic meters of water for agricultural usage. This amount is a great deal of the water used by agriculture. Now, when freshwater quotas are being cut and fruit tree plantations are being uprooted, this water is the hope for agriculture in the future."
Professor Uri Shani told participants that "agriculture is a central part of our life here in Israel. The struggle to obtain water for agriculture is becoming more acute because of the extremely serious water crisis. There has not been a month of January on record with as little rain as this year's January. We will only be able to pump 50 million cubic meters out of the Kinneret this year, so for agriculture to survive, we must recycle effluents for agricultural use."
Lake Kinneret's water level is dropping continuously due to the dry winter. On 14th January 2009, the lake's water level was minus 214.40 ie 5.6 meters below the top water level and only 1.40 meters above the minimum water level. For the first time since the inception of the state, the Water Authority intends to pump water beneath the lake's black line. Experts warn that doing so will adversely affect the quality of the water remaining in the lake.
Rainfall to date this year in most of the country has been far lower than average for this time of year and now we need 20-25% above the yearly average until the end of the winter. With even average rainfall, the Kinneret's water level will be only 20 - 30 centimeters above the red line by the end of the month. The way from there to the black line, which is -214.87, is short and fast.
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