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"This is the project that will lead KKL-JNF into the future," said Yael Shaltieli, KKL-JNF Director General at the launching of Stage One of the Kfar Saba Biofiltration Project on Thursday, 19th November. "This wonderful new undertaking began with Yaron Zinger, a young Israeli researcher studying at Monash University. He had the idea to implement this project in Israel and thanks to a grant arranged by Joe Krycer of JNF Australia, he was able to work with water experts and transform this vision into a reality.
"KKL-JNF is proud to be at the forefront of innovative and ambitious eco-technology to find solutions to Israel's chronic water shortage. We have built over 200 water reservoirs that have added 8% to Israel's water economy and we fund research and development for water-related projects. We hope that this biofilter will be the first of many and that other cities in Israel will follow in Kfar Saba's footsteps. We wish our friends from Australia a fruitful mission that will strengthen the bond between Australia and Israel."
Phillip Zajac, JNF Victoria Executive member, with his wife Miriam Zajac, both Gold Patrons, was the master of ceremonies who introduced Yehuda Ben Chamo, Mayor of Kfar Saba - the first municipality to embrace the new technology. "It's not easy to decide to do something no one else has ever tried so it is appropriate that the Mayor is our first speaker," Mr. Zajac said.
"The biofilter pilot will serve as a unique model for sustainable living in urban environments," said the Mayor. "This project symbolizes Israel's and Kfar Saba's commitment to protection of our environment. It is the first in a long line of green projects that will improve quality of life for Kfar Saba residents. I would like to express my gratitude to KKL-JNF Israel, JNF Australia, Monash University and to the employees of the Kfar Saba municipality. I would especially like to thank KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler for coordinating between KKL-JNF and Kfar Saba and for his unwavering support of the biofilter project. And one more thank you - last week, the Upper House of the South Wales Parliament passed a resolution calling for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier being held hostage in Gaza. I would ask to express Israel's gratitude to the Parliament through you."
"Water has always been an integral part of the relationship between Israel and Australia," noted His Excellency James Larsen, the Australian ambassador to Israel. "When the ANZAC troops from Australia and New Zealand led the charge on Beersheba in 1917, it was in order to capture Beersheba's water wells, a vital resource for the ANZAC troops. How astonished those soldiers would be if they were here today to see the cooperation between Monash University and Kfar Saba, leading the way to a better future. I would like to commend and congratulate KKL-JNF for its involvement and JNF Australia for their fantastic work being a bridge between Australia and Israel."
Professor Ana Deletic, Deputy Director of the Institute for Sustainable Water, said that she was simply delighted to be at the launching of the Kfar Saba biofilter. "Israel and Australia face common challenges. We are creating a means for cities to harvest storm water from their own catchments. When it rains, we harvest the water, treat it on the spot, store it and use it later for non-palatable purposes. Unlike desalination techniques, which consume huge amounts of energy, bio-filtration is entirely based on Green technology. What is also special about this method is that the system becomes part of the urban space and a focal point for the community. Biofilters help to promote clean, green, cool and smart communities."
The Biofilter Project manager and researcher, Yaron Zinger said that a year ago, this was just a dream. "My professors in Australia encouraged me to go ahead with this project, and I will always be grateful to JNF Australia and Joe Krycer, who is our main supporter and one of a kind. The project has been a real learning experience. A few weeks ago, a huge downpour hit us and 30% of Kfar Saba's annual rainfall came down in 36 hours. Fortunately, the biofilter remained intact, but we needed to replan certain elements to give us greater flexibility in dealing with unexpected situations in the future. I look forward to seeing you all here for the final launching and at additional projects."
The Honorable Phillip Costa, Minister for Water and Regional Development of New South Wales and leader of the WATEC Mission to Israel, was amazed by the sunny, warm weather and by the country at large. "The mission I am leading has been a great success. We have learned that the people of Israel are doers who think "outside of the box" and make things happen. What you have achieved since 1948 amazes the entire world. Israeli technology is making a big difference for my community and my people. I am proud that we are sharing biofiltration technology with you and I can tell you from my experience back home that these filters are wonderful
"Our two countries share technology and innovations through organizations like KKL-JNF. In Australia, the Aboriginal community has taught us that we must live in harmony with the land and share it, using our natural resources to make people healthier. One of the major outcomes of this mission is the inspiration we will take home with us to the other side of the planet."
Joe Krycer, State Executive Director of JNF Victoria, Australia, expressed his dream that Israel will take full advantage of its limited natural resources. "My name is Joseph, and like my Biblical namesake, I too am a dreamer. This project is the fulfillment of one of my dreams. The Bible tells us that since the time of Abraham and Isaac, there has been a struggle over water in this region. I would like to thank the local KKL-JNF staff, especially Jay and Efrat from the Australian desk, for their tireless efforts in seeing this project through. We promise to help Israel meet its challenges in the future as we have done in the past."
Ron Ferster, former president of JNF Australia, also attended the ceremony. He told us that "this was a groundbreaking event that takes advantage of state-of-the-art technologies. It's all about sustainability and quality of life - values that are at the top of the priority list for both Israel and Australia."
The Kfar Saba biofilter will harvest storm water and treat polluted groundwater. The treated water will be injected into the groundwater aquifer, where it is stored. The water can then be recovered at any point along the aquifer for a variety of uses. In addition, the system is an integral part of the urban design and contributes to the amenity of the local park. The technology, which was developed by Monash University in Australia, is being tested in Kfar Saba for Israeli conditions, and if proven, could be applied for production of large quantities of fresh water in other urban areas. In this manner, KKL-JNF contributes to the recovery of one of Israel's most valuable fresh water sources.
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