The man who catches rain water

Experts: Recent storms add 21 cm. to Kinneret, which is still more than 5 meters below bottom red line.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
March 1, 2009 10:01
2 minute read.
hermon snow 298

Mount Hermon 248.88. (photo credit: Channel 1)

 
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Amir Yechieli has made it his mission to bring rainwater harvesting to Israel. So far, he has equipped 40 schools and various other structures in the Jerusalem area with systems to catch the water from heaven. Israel uses just a fifth of its rain, according to Yechieli. Most of it evaporates or runs into the sea. Yechieli said he had just finished installing a system in the capital's Givat Masua neighborhood to catch runoff from a basketball court. "The court was two dunam [0.2 hectares] and I can catch two cubic meters per every millimeter that falls. It will rain 30 to 40 times per winter," he told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Yechieli has been disappointed by the lack of positive response from local and national authorities. "No one has picked up the telephone from the government ministries to ask: How can we help?" he said. "I would expect them to support me, encourage me, even if they don't put out any money for the project. Of course, any small amount of funds, even matching, would help," he said. While there could be health issues involved with drinking unpurified rainwater, gardening and other non-drinking uses are feasible. Before attempting to build such a system, one should consult a professional. While the recent rainy weekends has brought much needed water, it is far from enough to lift Israel out of its water crisis, the Water Authority warned on Sunday. Lake Kinneret rose 21 centimeters from Thursday to Sunday morning, Authority spokesman Uri Schor told the Post. "But we still need five meters and 13 centimeters to reach the bottom red line," he said. In other words, if it rains like it has for the past three days every single day until May, the Kinneret will be full. However, that does not take into account what is needed to replenish the dangerously low levels of the aquifers, Schor noted. "It's wonderful rain - great for nature, great for agriculture, but we are still in the middle of a gigantic water crisis [and people should still be conserving as much as they can]," Schor warned. Rain harvesting is an ancient technique that is slowly gaining traction again around the world. In Germany and Australia, rain collecting containers are mandatory on rooftops. In Britain, the US, some Caribbean countries, China, and Brazil there are private rain harvesting initiatives. The water is mostly used to water gardens or operate toilets. According to Schor, the Water Authority harvests some of the flood waters in the North and the South. It stores the rain and then farmers water their fields with it, he said. In general and in the Central region in particular, however, Schor said it was not financially feasible for the authority to set up the containers and pipes needed, "since it only rains like this once or twice a year."

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