Eye on Israel and the Middle East as International Water Day Approaches
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2010 – New York, NY – If scarcity of water resources weren’t enough of an issue, water quality is under scrutiny as well.
March 22, 2010 is International Water Day, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. This year's theme is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” Jewish National Fund (JNF), the non-profit founded in 1901 to develop and care for the land and people of Israel, is making huge inroads in the critical issues of water management, access and sanitation as water remains the most pressing environmental and political issue today in Israel and the Middle East region.
Every year, more than 1,000 cubic miles of wastewater are produced globally. While waste and wastewater can be reused productively for energy and irrigation, they often are not. In developing countries, 80% of all discharged waste goes untreated owing to a lack of regulations and resources. For more than a decade, JNF has pioneered innovative solutions to stretch Israel’s water resources, building 205 reservoirs with a combined capacity of more than 66 billion gallons of recycled and flood water and has increased Israel's water supply by 12%. These reservoirs provide almost half of all the water demanded by the agricultural sector, the largest consumer of water in Israel, thereby freeing up scarce fresh water for domestic use. Today, Israel recycles more than 77% of the sewage water, the highest amount in the world. Spain is second, recycling just 17 %.
But as Israel grapples with its worst water shortage in 80 years, JNF has furthered its involvment by creating the JNF Parsons Water Fund. The Fund, a comprehensive $100 million, 10-year initiative, is expanding upon and accelerating JNF’s vital work by investing in a diverse portfolio of projects to increase Israel’s supply of high-quality water by more than 440 billion gallons.
In 2008, the Knesset appointed an Investigative Commission to determine the causes of Israel’s water crisis and submit findings and recommendations. Because of JNF’s record of involvement in Israel’s water economy, it was the only organization outside of Israel invited to testify before the commission, where in February 2009, it presented the JNF Parsons Water Fund as a sustainable solution to Israel’s water shortage.
The Fund focuses on creating new sources of water by drilling for new aquifers, and looking for new, clean technologies that will purify water to the tertiary level. Additionally, its objectives include promoting water recycling projects for rehabilitating rivers and streams, exploring options of water importation, and supporting educational initiatives directed towards saving water. It will lend, rather than give, capital for the creation of water-related infrastructure projects; this money will return to the Fund, allowing for future investments in excess of the initial endowment. “We don’t want to stand in front of our donors 10 years from now and still talk about the water crisis in Israel,” said Dr. Mort Mower, the Fund’s chairman.
The Fund’s Projects at a Glance:
Drilling For New Aquifers
Purification and Recycling
Rainwater Harvesting In Schools
The activities of the JNF Parsons Water Fund are monitored, directed and authorized by an Advisory Board, while the Fund Directors are comprised of leading donors, individuals with relevant expertise in or exposure to current and future water-related issues and technologies, or any other individuals recommended by JNF and reporting to JNF’s Board of Directors.
“The activities outlined above will lead to real solutions for Israel’s water economy as well as influence the entire region,” said Dr. Mower. “JNF is looking to use our experience and expertise in water and share our knowledge with the Palestinians, the Jordanians and others. We believe that the solutions for the water crisis can be an opportunity for collaboration between Israel and her neighbors.”
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.