The Shamir Drilling Project

The Shamir drillings in the Upper Galilee help Israel deal with its chronic water shortage. These three drillings, which provide critical support to Israeli agriculture in the north

December 16, 2014 14:31
2 minute read.

The Shamir Drilling Project 758. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

Are being executed with the support of JNF USA's Parsons Water Foundation. In addition, Friends of KKL-JNF in Australia, Canada, and Germany help support scientific and applied research on the water drilled from the Shamir, and have assisted in the building of the Shamir Reservoir.

Israel, located in one of the driest regions in the world, is in a perpetual state of water crisis. Historically, water has often been, as in the biblical case of Isaac and the Philistine shepherds arguing over well ownership, a cause of great dispute. In the thousands of years since that particular conflict, water scarcity in the region has been exacerbated by rapidly growing populations, ambitious development plans, and prolonged periods of drought. The current annual deficit in Israel's renewable water resources is almost 131 billion gallons. 

Though the picture seems grim, Israelis have an international reputation for pioneering innovative solutions to the water challenge. On a quiet hillside in the northeastern Galilee, for example, a group of hydrologists and farmers are reaching back into the past in order to guarantee a viable source of water for future generations. The Shamir project, a partnership between the Israeli government, the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights Water Associations, and Jewish National Fund’s Parsons Water Fund (through the generous support of Evelyn G. Lipper, M.D. and the EGL Charitable Foundation), is drawing unprecedented amounts of water from a 5,000 year-old (according to carbon dating) artesian aquifer. 

The Shamir complex (named for the kibbutz above which it is located) includes three drills, each around 1.5 kilometers deep, spread over a hilly area sloping down from the Golan Heights into the Hula Valley. 

One of the deepest drilling operations in the world, Shamir taps into two and a half billion cubic meters of water, more than half the volume of the Sea of Galilee.  Contained at a tremendous pressure, the drills release 600 cubic meters (around 16,000 gallons) of water per hour. 

“Just to give a sense of proportion,” says Yigal Hen of the Golan Heights Water Association, “that’s enough water to irrigate 80% of Israel’s apple crops for an entire year.” 

For further information, comments or permission please contact
Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Internet Department

Related Content