Beit Yoav resovior 298.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Water has been a major concern in Israel for generations, both as a result of the country's limited resources and because agriculture, a mainstay of the Israeli economy, is inseparable from the water situation.
KKL-JNF, one of the major parties involved in reservoir building, plays an active role in the wastewater recycling process, having completed the construction of 193 water reservoirs with a total storage capacity of approximately 140 million cubic meters.
Some of the reservoirs can be filled a number of times a year, since they serve as "last-stop" reservoirs for large sewage purification plants - such as the Dan Region Sewage Reclamation Plant. It is possible to harvest as much as 300 million cubic meters of water in reservoirs built by KKL-JNF with the help or Friend worldwide.
Recycling water combats shortages, reduces expenses, benefits the economy and improves the environment. Waste disposal is today one of the most serious global environmental problems and in Israel, chronic water shortages endanger the country's agriculture.
Therefore, water recycling tackles both problems: saving water and solving waste disposal problems. Water recycling, being less costly than developing new water resources, reduces the need for fertilizers and "frees" drinking water for domestic use as it is replaced by recycled wastewater in agriculture. Obviously the quality of the effluents must be carefully monitored and advanced irrigation techniques used but the positive aspects of this water utilization system far outweigh the disadvantages.
In order to encourage the use of floodwaters and recycled water for agriculture, the National Water Commission has established a graduated tariff system, in which the price per cubic meter of water decreases as the proportion of recycled water increases. The system has been successfully implemented so that by now almost 30% of the water used in agriculture is recycled thanks to KKL-JNF.
To date, hundreds of reservoirs for recycled water have been built at both local and regional level. These reservoirs are actually the final stages in a complex process for purifying sewage that includes breakdown of organic pollutants, removing suspended particles by sedimentation and then storing the recycled water in reservoirs from where it can be piped out for use in irrigation.
At the present time, KKL-JNF is building and upgrading six reservoirs. In the north:
Sharona reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs to be built by KKL-JNF in recent years holding some 3.2 million cubic meters of water. The reservoir will collect treated waste water from the nearby villages of the Lower Galilee, which will be recycled to the orchards and fields of Moshav Sharona thus lowering the general pollution levels.
In addition, work continues on the construction of Shomrat and Alonim , Meitzar plus Netiv HaLamed-He and Og (B) in the south. KKL-JNF is also committed to building and upgrading four additional reservoirs: Kfar Daniel, Mishmar Hasharon, Ayelet Hashahar and Mayan Tzvi (B) as well as building green water basin plants to treat effluents of Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava.
KKL-JNF's future plans include building another nineteen reservoirs and water plants besides those previously mentioned, which are currently in various stages of planning.
It is estimated that one irrigated dunam of agricultural crops requires about 500 cubic meters of water, thus reservoirs built by KKL-JNF facilitate intensive agricultural production on a total area of 600,000 dunam!
Water provided by KKL-JNF reservoirs enables water-intensive crops on land previously dependent on rainwater - as for example, with the Sharona Reservoir in the north, which provides water for irrigation for Ramat Yavni'el . It can be safely said that hundreds of villages countrywide enjoy the water provided by KKL-JNF reservoirs.
Approximate domestic water usage per capita in Israel is about 220 liters per day. The annual water consumption of a million residents is about 80-85 million cubic meters. Therefore, the 300 million cubic meters of water that are stored in KKL-JNF reservoirs make it possible to free drinking quality water for 3.5 million Israeli residents. As the demand for drinking quality water increases with the increase of the population and the rise in the quality of living, we may conclude that less drinking-quality water will be earmarked for the agricultural sector.
In addition, it should be remembered that the development of new water sources, such as desalination, leads to a need for processing additional effluents. Therefore water reservoirs being built by KKL-JNF today are the basis for agricultural productivity today, and in the future.