Park planting goes ahead despite water crisis

Despite the serious water shortage in Israel and a total ban on watering public gardens throughout this winter, Kfar Saba has been busy planting large swaths of grass in the 90-dunam second stage of its new municipal park, reports City gardeners have been working over the past two months preparing the ground and planting large stretches of lawn in the new section, which will eventually join the completed first stage to create a park of some 250 dunams, making it one of the biggest parks in Israel and 80 dunams bigger than neighboring Ra'anana's popular park. According to the report, in August the Israel Water Authority banned the watering of new public gardens that are not conservative with water, a restriction designed to prevent the planting of lawns and seasonal flowers that require large amounts of water. The authority also banned the watering of public gardens completely between November 1 this year and April next year. "There exists a great waste of water in gardening, and making the use of water more efficient can save large amounts of water without harming the gardens," the authority said. The report said it was not clear how Kfar Saba plans to water the large stretches of lawn it has planted. One plan being considered by the city is to use water from the showers at the local country club. But the report said this would require the construction of pipelines from the country club to the park, and even if the idea was to go ahead, it would take some time before it was functional, while the grass was already being planted and needed water immediately. A municipal spokesman said the city was bound to water public gardens in accordance with Water Authority regulations, and was making "special efforts" to irrigate the park with recycled water "in the hope that soon there will be a system that will [facilitate] this." The report also said that the city has begun experimenting with a substance known as TerraCottern, a gel developed in Belgium in the 1980s for use in the deserts of Africa. The gel, which aims to replace the need for watering entirely, is spread on the soil and breaks down over seven to 10 years, releasing water and minerals. The report said that a Kfar Saba resident who holds the exclusive import rights for the substance had persuaded the city to try it, and the substance was now being tested on a 200-meter stretch of lawn, although it would take time for the results to become clear.