For many years, Jewish National Fund has been working to bolster Israel’s water economy by developing alternative water sources, saving the economy millions, advancing Israeli agriculture, and improving water quality. JNF’s work with water has increased Israel’s water economy by over 15% through the treatment, recycling, and collection of both waste and runoff water, responsible aquifer drilling, and river rehabilitation. Over the past three decades JNF has helped build over 250 reservoirs, which has raised the amount of recycled water in Israel from 4% to over 85% today. Furthermore, over half of Israel’s agricultural water comes from recycled and reused wastewater, and most of that water is supplied by JNF reservoirs.
While Israel is now more water secure than it has ever been, our work is not over and the need for water is not going away. Israel’s population is growing, and with that growth comes the need for additional reliable water resources. JNF’s past accomplishments and successes have laid the groundwork that today enables us to continue to invest in Israel’s water, and in turn for Israel to share its technology with the world. Our efforts have evolved to focus on the next generation of water needs. JNF has launched the National Water Task Force to serve as an umbrella and coordinating body of our expanding portfolio of water projects and partners in Israel, to enhance their strength, fiscal viability, and effectiveness.
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Israel reuses over 85% of its water, ranking as the number one country to do so across the globe. Reusing this water after purification and improving its quality not only saves water, but also decreases pollution of the environment. Agriculture consumes over 65% of the national use of water and over 50% of the water used for agriculture in Israel comes from recycled water. It is JNF’s goal to help Israel increase their usage of recycled water from 85% to 95%. To achieve that, among additional recycling projects, JNF is currently planning to help build a new facility for sewage purification in the Arava to treat all of the wastewater from regional kibbutzim and purify it for agricultural use. In the Negev Bedouin Communities of Wadi Attir and Um Batin, JNF is implementing a Wastewater Treatment System that will manage farm waste, maximize water conservation in an eco-friendly way, and act as a model for other communities. JNF is also involved in an inspiring project in partnership with LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible, through building a wetland at the Emek HaShalom Farm. This wetland will include an intricate system to recycle water on the farm while teaching topics that are not typically taught in a framework for people with disabilities.
In the first decades of the State of Israel, rivers, and environ mental protection in general, were low priorities. During these early years, there was a consensus that the country’s rivers should serve agriculture and economy, resulting in the pumping of the rivers upstream, while the lower parts were allowed to be transformed into open sewer canals and municipal dumps. JNF is working to help correct the damage done to rivers across Israel including Be’er Sheva River Park and Lake, Hadera River, Harod River, Yerucham Park, and more.
Research & Development
JNF’s contribution towards helping alleviate Israel’s water crisis is not limited to building reservoirs. Cutting-edge research is critical for efficient water usage. Research must also be translated into action and JNF is working towards implementing the findings across Israel and turning it into reality. Successes thus far include the Shamir Wells Research, the largest natural underground water resource of the past decade in Israel; the Hula Basin, which is a vital component of Israel’s natural water economy; the Besor River Basin Rehabilitation; and MYWAS, the Multi-Year Water Allocation System which is a national water management model designed to achieve the most efficient water resource management possible. Looking forward, the Lysimeter project in the Arava region is focused on optimizing the growth of dates to help bolster the agricultural economy. In Halutza, researchers are looking for new and cost efficient water sources to save the agricultural economy in that region.
Knowledge is power, and one of Israel’s greatest resources in water awareness is its myriad educational programs that start in childhood and continue through adulthood. JNF has been supporting this educational process for many years with its Rainwater Harvesting program, which is now in over 50 schools across Israel. JNF is also the main sponsor of the Israeli International Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competition, which is known as the “Junior Nobel Prize for Water Research.” Most recently one of the winners of this prestigious prize, Emily Elhacham was featured in Israeli Forbes Magazine on their 30 under 30 list.