Dr. Yaron Zinger, Director for Center for Water Sensitive Cities..
(photo credit: DENNIS ZINN/KKL-JNF)
Management and recycling of urban runoff was the subject of the fourth Water Sensitive Cities in Israel Conference that took place on July 10, 2018, at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. Participants included leading hydrology experts, drainage engineers, landscape architects, town planners, water authority officials, students in these fields, and others. KKL-JNF hosted the event together with the Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Israel and Zalul, the organization dedicated to protecting the country’s seas and rivers.
The Conference was opened by KKL-JNF Central Region Director, Dr. Haim Messing, who is also the Chairman of the Center for Water Sensitive cities in Israel. He said that the problem of city runoff during the rainy season is already well known, and while a lot is said about it, the relevant authorities are not doing enough. He called for action:
“I am not pointing a finger at any one or any one authority, it is a communal problem. KKL-JNF, together with JNF Australia, is investing enormous sums of money to research this phenomenon and to find solutions. We have shown that there are solutions but they are not being implemented. The time has come for the relevant bodies to get together and get down to work.”
Conference organizer Dr. Yaron Zinger, the founder of the Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Israel, told the participants that during the conference proceedings, the floor would be open for everyone to discuss, question and comment. He requested that they relate to the event as a workshop rather than an academic meeting.
The first session, chaired by Dalia Tal of the Zalul Association, was on the situation in Israel at present. She explained that Zalul is an NGO that strives to bring the issues of water preservation and environmental protection to the forefront of Israeli public awareness through conservation, activism, research, awareness-raising, and education.
“Zalul was established some five years ago when concerned citizens became fed up with the condition of the country’s beaches and sea, and decided to do something about it”, she said. “Since then, awareness has grown and their activism has moved into many other areas of preservation as well.”
Micky Zaide, a strategic planning engineer at the Israeli Water Authority, delivered the opening paper, “Integration of Management and Restoration of City Runoff in the Planning of the Water Sector”. He said that the water authority in Israel is fully aware that storm water is a resource
and not a nuisance.
“‘Storm water drainage’ as a concept does not exist anymore. Today we talk about ‘storm water management,’" he said. "The objectives of the Israel Water Authority in this respect are the reduction of flood damage, an increase of water reserves, soil conservation and environmental protection activities. We are working to change the structure of the storm water sector in the country as well as pertinent laws.” Read more about the 4th Water Sensitive Cities Conference.