(photo credit: )
This year, too, KKL-JNF attended the WATEC exhibition, which took place on November 17-19 in Tel Aviv. The KKL-JNF pavilion exhibited the organization's latest water-related innovations, which aroused great interest among the exhibition's visitors and participants, both Israeli and foreign. This year's exhibit focused on three main issues: the operation of the first bio-filter system for the purification of surface runoff water from urban streets; the Yarkon constructed-wetlands project; and the continuing development of the reservoirs system throughout Israel.
In the early morning, immediately after the official opening of this large-scale exhibition, visitors from Israel, Kenya, the Philippines, Moldavia and even Turkmenistan were already crowding around KKL-JNF's pavilion. Most of them wanted to hear more about effluent-reclamation systems, but the Turkmenistan representative was interested mainly in Israel's battle against desertification, which has also won KKL-JNF worldwide recognition.
Moshe Cohen, Avri Kadmon and Boris Chanhis from KKL-JNF's Project Development Division were on hand to welcome the many guests who had questions about KKL-JNF activities. Avri Kadmon told them that, despite difficulties caused by the worldwide economic crisis, KKL-JNF is planning a spurt of activity regarding river rehabilitation and other water-related projects. These include a plan for the establishment of riverhead reservoirs, which will collect the sewage water that is at present channeled straight into the rivers themselves. This water will be treated at its point of collection and returned to the river only after having been cleansed of major pollutants, enabling rehabilitation of life in the river.
At the opening of the exhibition, Yoram Horowitz, Director-General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, mentioned KKL-JNF's collaboration on a number of key aspects of environmental conservation. He added that the Ministry is at present engaged in talks with KKL-JNF with the aim of contributing additional environmental material to the educational program operated by KKL-JNF in educational institutions throughout Israel.
Alon Zesak, head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's Water and Rivers Department, likewise praised KKL-JNF's work, especially the achievements of the River Rehabilitation Authority, which is a joint project shared by KKL-JNF and the Ministry of Environmental Protection. He noted the establishment of an extensive infrastructure for water purification and the construction of reservoirs by KKL-JNF in recent years, and mentioned the organization's efforts to speed up the construction of additional reservoirs; these are badly needed because of the shortage of storage space for reclaimed sewage water suitable for agricultural use. "But for KKL-JNF's determination we would now be in a very problematic situation as far as reservoirs are concerned, and even if we were able to reclaim the same quantity of sewage water, it would flow into the sea instead of being used for agriculture," he said. "KKL-JNF's contribution to the water economy and river reclamation is vital, and the donations made by Friends of KKL-JNF form the basis for the implementation of these reclamation projects."
So far KKL-JNF has established 204 reservoirs throughout the country. Fifteen reservoirs are under construction or undergoing upgrades at present; eight of these are in southern Israel, and all were built with help from Friends of KKL-JNF throughout the world.
Visitors to the exhibition expressed a keen interest in the bio-filter project, whose first plant was inaugurated in northern Kefar Saba during the course of the exhibition. Many visitors asked for details of its precise location, so that they could see it in action with their own eyes.
The bio-filter system is a method of harvesting and treating urban runoff through specific filter media and unique plant and bacteria species that are highly efficient in treating the pollutants. In this manner the water is purified and channeled back into the aquifer for municipal use.
The project was launched on the initiative of KKL-JNF Victoria, Australia, in conjunction with Monash University and Yaron Singer. Avri Kadmon explained, in answer to questions, that this experimental installation is the first of its kind and that it will not be possible to gauge the results of its operation for another two years at least - perhaps more. He added that another eight local authorities throughout Israel are impatiently awaiting the establishment of similar bio-filter plants in their areas of jurisdiction.
Another project presented at the exhibition was the Yarkon constructed-wetlands project, which was likewise set up with the help of KKL-JNF Australia. Eighty dunam (20 acres) of shallow pools with lush native vegetation have been constructed on the border of the Yarkon River Park. Twenty thousand cubic meters of water from the sewage purification plants in Kefar Saba and Hod HaSharon pass through these pools every day and are channeled into the dry Yarkon riverbed. This provides a continual flow of water throughout the year, thus renewing the ecosystem, the plant and animal life of the area. The wetlands dissolve pesticide, pharmaceutical and hormone residues remaining in the water, thereby ensuring a consistent source of pure water for the Yarkon River.
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