JNF goes online to help alleviate Israel's water crisis

"31 Days for Israel" campaign that aims to raise two million dollars during the month of May to build more reservoirs in Israel.

golan water reservoir (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
golan water reservoir
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Determined to help alleviate the country's water crisis, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is launching a "31 Days for Israel" campaign that aims to raise two million dollars during the month of May to build more reservoirs in Israel. Using the Internet, the JNF is reaching out to its lay leadership across the US to create teams who will forward the message across the web to other potential donors. Participants can create personalized home pages on the topic using material prepared by the JNF, which they can then use to recruit others to spread the word. "We've used this technology very successfully before," said Ira Bartfield, JNF's national community campaign chair, "so we know it works." The message is an urgent one. "This crisis affects the entire Middle East," said JNF vice president Chuck Fax. "But it's a silent crisis; one that doesn't get the headlines." There are two major reasons why Israel's water shortage has reached such extreme proportions: drought and over-consumption. Between the natural aridity of the region and a growing demand that far exceeds the supply provided in the annual recharge of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the coastal and mountain aquifers (Israel's only sources of fresh water), Israel faces the constant threat of a dramatic water crisis. During the last decade, Israel experienced an unprecedented series of diminished annual rainfalls, and this drought cycle has caused a dramatic dwindling of its fresh water supply. The Water Authority recently announced that due to low precipitation, high irrigation consumption and pollution, the amount of usable water supplies in the country are at a 10-year low. By year's end, the authority said, the Kinneret's level will likely drop below the so-called "red line," when pumping will have to stop as the machinery will no longer be submerged. Officials said Israel may soon have to ration water, a measure last imposed in the late 1990s. The JNF foresaw the significance of the water issue and began allocating resources to build reservoirs in the late 1980s. To date, 200 reservoirs and dams have been built across Israel, adding 250 million cubic meters of treated water and flood water to Israel's national water economy, or 10% of the total water supply. This water irrigates over 450 thousand dunam (about 112 thousand acres) of orchard and field crop that would otherwise use up scarce fresh water. JNF reservoirs meet about 40% of Israel's agricultural water needs, thereby alleviating the pressure of supplying drinking water to the population. Currently, 340 million cubic meters of waste water in Israel is not getting recycled. The JNF has committed to building another 20 reservoirs over the next two years.