Ir Habahadim, or the “city of training bases,".
(photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)
In the middle of the Negev Desert sands, a brand new city is beginning to take shape – an expansive army training base that will not only be home to passing through soldiers, but also will house toilets flushed with shower water and roofs covered in solar panels.
Ir Habahadim, or the “city of training bases,” will welcome its first residents in March in a stage-by-stage launch that ultimately will conclude in February 2016, Lt.-Cl. Shalom Alfasi, the administrative director of the city, told environmental journalists on a tour of the building site on Monday.
In the 250-hectare IDF plot – of which 150 hectares have thus far been designated for buildings – some 60 percent of the energy consumption will be powered by solar panels, he said.
“It’s an economic anchor for the environment,” Aflasi said.
Sewage and electricity infrastructure is being hooked up in a region that never had access to such utilities, while the hope is to eventually extend the Beersheba railway line to just outside the expansive base.
Journalists visited the site on a southern “clean-tech” tour organized by the Mashov Group, which is responsible for the annual Israeli Cleantech Exhibition slated to take place next week.
All buildings being constructed in Ir Habahadim comply with Israel’s green-building standard (IS 5281), a voluntary standard that defines environmentally friendly construction techniques – including material types, as well as water, energy and waste integration.
Much of the water in the city will undergo two usages as “gray water” from showers will be used to flush the toilets, and only afterwards travel by pipeline to a new sewage-treatment plant in the region, Alfasi explained.
Automatically adjusting lighting and temperature controls also will be crucial to energy savings in the buildings, and Alfasi said he is working to see a natural-gas line directly connected to the base.
He and his colleagues also are working with the surrounding regional councils to build a bicycle path that extends from Beersheba all the way to Ir Habahadim – about 30 kilometers away.
On Tuesday, Ir Habahadim will be hooked up, for the first time, to the region’s brand new sewage-treatment plant, Matash Mashavim.
Following the visit to the training base city, the clean-tech tour stopped at the treatment plant, which is run by Shtang Construction and Engineering – the Green Way.
The facility, which has a capacity to treat 1.2 million cubic meters of sewage annually, began treating waste from communities in the region three months ago, explained Rony Sarfatti, the head of operations at the plant.
The wastewater undergoes both anaerobic and aerobic processes and is treated to a secondary level, releasing mainly nitrogen into the air, Sarfatti explained.
While the new Mashavim plant has the ability to be quickly converted to a tertiary-level treatment facility, the current demand in the region is only for secondary-level water output, said Yankele Moskovitch, director for research and development at Ramat Hanegev Regional Council.
Treated wastewater, he said, is used primarily for agriculture, and farmers in the region focus on olive growth, which only requires secondary-level treated water.
Once Mashavim begins to receive more and more sewage, particularly from Ir Habahadim, Sarfatti said the facility has the capacity to double in size.
The sewage infrastructure, along with electricity and water pipes that have cropped up in a previously barren region are a testament to the base’s ability to promote growth in the region, according to Alfasi.
Ir Habahadim, he stressed, will play a pivotal role in the future of Negev development, not only in the army but in civilian sectors, as well.
“We are the locomotive that is leading this whole train,” he said.