Waterfalls in the Golan Heights. (photo by Michael Davis courtesy Ashernet)
Water from the Golan Heights region’s streams, as well as melting snow from Mount Hermon, will eventually find their way into the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Unfortunately, even though precipitation has been plentiful this year, it will not be enough to refill completely the underground water resources or the Kinneret. Presently, the lake level stands at 213.58 metres below sea level, which is below the red line, one of three level measurements. When the lake falls below 214.87 metres below sea level, the pipes extracting the water from the lake are lower than the entry point of the pipes feeding the main pumping station of Israel’s water authority. When the water level in the lake is somewhere between the upper red line and the lower red line, lake water can be pumped to the country’s main fresh water pumping station for distribution along the Israel National Water Carrier. Fresh water is also sourced from the many natural aquifers that are found all over the country.
An experimental date palm orchard in the southern Arava Valley, where water consumption and response to salinity is monitored. Based on data measured in these lysimeters, local farmers are advised on recommended quantities of irrigation water daily. (photo from Zehava Yehuda)
“Growing up in Israel, I have been aware of the
water problem [since] quite early in my childhood,” said Dr. Zehava Yehuda.
“When I graduated, however, the country was still relying mostly on rain. We
could still expect rain-blessed years, and the Sea of Galilee to overflow
Over the last two decades, however, only once
has there been a year with enough rain to allow for the opening of the Degania
Dam, which regulates water levels in the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) and the
lower Jordan River.
Yehuda spoke on Nov. 27 at a Winnipeg Friends
of Israel event at the city’s Temple Shalom. She recently moved to Winnipeg
with her family and is currently working at the local Jewish National Fund
office as program and communications coordinator, while searching for a
“I graduated from the Hebrew University,
faculty of agriculture, department of soil and water, worked on iron uptake in
plants, and did post-doctoral studies on phytoremediation of soils contaminated
with heavy metals,” said Yehuda. “Phytoremediation is the use of hyper-accumulator
plants that tolerate and are able to absorb high concentrations of specific
“I worked as a lab manager and associate
researcher at the HU, and as a soil and water researcher at the Centre for
Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Research, Southern Arava Research and
Development Experimental Station, Yotveta.”
According to Yehuda, soil and water are
fundamental resources affecting all forms of life, food security and ecosystem
Israeli water authorities have been streamlined
to funnel through one office to simplify management and five large-scale
desalination plants have been built, she said. Desalinated water now accounts
for about 85% of domestic urban water. However, the plants were built late in
“Israel is facing a five-year drought that is
depleting the country’s most important bodies of water and deteriorating their
quality,” said Yehuda. “Israel had not foreseen a sequence of arid years like
“The cumulative deficit in Israel’s renewable
water resources before the current rain season amounts to approximately two
billion cubic metres – an amount equal to the annual consumption of the entire
“There are many reasons for the current water
situation,” she said. “First, Israel is situated in an arid region, where 60%
of the county is desert. Meanwhile, population growth and standard of living
have grown significantly.
“This not only has dramatically increased water
consumption, but it has also aggravated the load on the coastal aquifer, one of
the three major water resources in the country. Israel has also committed by
peace treaties to transfer about 85 MCM [million cubic metres] to Jordan and
the Palestinians … and, in fact, it transfers much more.
“Most of the water consumption in the world is
used for irrigation. Israel has been recycling water for agriculture for
decades. About 90% of fresh water is reused.
“Since the invention of drip irrigation in
Israel, efforts have been directed to improving drippers, irrigation regimes
and understanding plants’ actual water consumption to efficiently use water in
Further to this, Israel focused on innovative
technologies to turn an older, expensive desalination solution into a more
practical one, by improving the membranes that remove the salt and reducing the
energy needed to run the plants.
“As of today, about 40% of drinking water in
Israel is supplied as desalinated seawater, and this percentage is expected to
grow even more,” said Yehuda.
Because the membranes also strip the water of
other essential nutrients, she said Israel’s water authorities have been
supplementing the desalinated water with, for example, “magnesium, a mineral
critical for proper heart functioning, among other functions,” but it is
expensive to do so and “[a]dding it to all desalinated water would
significantly raise its cost.”
Another concern with desalination is that the
brine (removed salt) is being returned to the sea, and the ecological
implications for the sea are not fully known.
“With all this desalinated water available,
both the population and the Israeli authorities wrongly assumed that Israel had
solved her water problems, and that saving water was no longer a necessity,”
said Yehuda. “The authorities have since changed their position back to the
need to save water.”
Plans have recently been approved to build more
desalination plants to better meet the growing need for water during the dry
months and to redirect unused desalinated water during the winter months to the
Sea of Galilee; in a sense, using the lake as a reservoir.
“The current crisis has led to the realization
that a comprehensive master plan for policy and for institutional and
operational changes is required to stabilize the situation, and to improve
Israel’s water balance with a long-term perspective,” said Yehuda.
“Despite the fact that water pumping from the
Kinneret was massively reduced, I do not expect water levels to return to what
they were 15 years ago when Lake Kinneret – Israel’s biggest fresh water source
– and underground aquifers were full. Hopefully, resources will not continue to
Yehuda provided a rundown of the different
water-related experiments with which she has been involved, including an
experimental date palm orchard in the southern Arava Valley, where water
consumption and response to salinity is monitored. Based on the data collected,
local farmers are advised on recommended quantities of irrigation water daily.
Event attendee Carina Blumgrund said, “We all
know that Israel is at the forefront of developing smart resources to irrigate,
and that they had done drip systems and are always trying to research how to be
proactive, like taking advantage of the heat to have off-season production and
export to Europe … but we don’t really know about the details…. It was
really interesting hearing about current issues. I had no idea about water
levels…. And I didn’t know about the treaties, about sharing with neighbours.”
On July 10, at Givat Olga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, centre-left, and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sample water that has just been purified to the World Health Organization standard in the Galmobile. In February 2015, Gal Water Technologies Co., from nearby Caesarea, launched the mobile water purification system. The small vehicle, the first of its kind in the world, weighs 1,540 kilograms, operates on a 12-volt electric supply and can be set up in less than half an hour. It can connect to almost any water source. (photos from Ashernet)
During an installation of a solar water pumping system at Nyanza Village, Uganda, Innovation: Africa’s engineer and project manager celebrate as clean water flows. (photo from Innovation: Africa via Israel21c.org)
Using ingenuity to overcome its serious water challenges, Israel has become the go-to expert for a world facing an impending water crisis. To celebrate World Water Day on March 22, Israel21c took a look at 10 of these innovative water projects, and Israel’s leadership role.
This year’s WATEC expo and conference, to be held in September in Tel Aviv, is expected to attract 10,000 stakeholders from 90 countries seeking Israeli solutions for water issues. Israel exports $2.2 billion annually in water technology and expertise. In addition, these commodities are shared on a humanitarian basis through training courses, consultations and projects. Keren Kayemeth L’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) often hosts delegations from around the world – most recently, from California, Argentina and the European Policy Centre – to see how Israel’s system of treatment facilities and 230 reservoirs has achieved the world’s highest ratio of wastewater reuse. About 92% of Israeli wastewater gets treated and 75% is used for agricultural irrigation. Israel plans to recycle 95% of its wastewater for irrigation by the end of 2025.
“During the 1980s, recycling wastewater was a revolutionary concept and many people were skeptical. Today, nearly half of the irrigation in Israel comes from recycled wastewater,” said KKL-JNF development project director Yossi Schreiber.
Israeli water-tech companies are planning and building agricultural and municipal water infrastructure in countries including Angola, Ghana, Serbia, China, Spain and the United States. Here are 10 recent examples.
1. The nonprofit group Innovation: Africa won a United Nations award for transforming lives in seven African countries using Israeli technologies, such as Netafim irrigation systems, that enable farmers to grow more crops with less water; and solar energy systems that pump water from aquifers, saving villagers (mostly women and children) countless hours previously spent finding and fetching water.
2. IsraAID launched its WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project about four years ago to tailor-make solutions for communities from Fiji to Haiti to Myanmar.
In the rain-dependent South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, a March 2014 cyclone contaminated reservoirs and destroyed water-harvesting systems. Among other steps, IsraAID strategized the engineering of a low-tech gravity system, built and maintained by locals, to bring water from mountain springs down into two villages encompassing more than 600 people and one school. IsraAID is working with the World Bank to construct three more gravity systems.
In Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp and Uganda’s Gulu township, which struggle with waterborne disease and water contamination, IsraAID trains unemployed or underemployed people to be water technicians. Graduates work with local nongovernmental organizations or water companies, or start their own businesses, to contribute their new expertise in anything from drilling wells and building latrines to teaching hygiene.
3. A massive landslide in September 2015 damaged a major irrigation canal partially built by Israeli NGO Tevel b’Tzedek in an impoverished Nepali village. Tevel staff repaired the damage with funding from the Rochlin Foundation and Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, and worked with the local water council to strengthen the canal walls, reestablishing and assuring water supply to 224 households (about 1,300 people) and subsistence farmers.
Also in Nepal, Tevel is fighting the effects of flash floods – which deplete water available for drinking and irrigation – by building irrigation pools and setting up zero-water-waste systems enabling villagers to conserve water through Israeli methods, including drip irrigation learned by Tevel’s native Nepal director at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Tevel also is teaching village farmers less water-intensive professions, such as beekeeping.
4. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has partnered with Caesarea-based GAL Water Technologies to provide free water-treatment products to African nations for more than 20 years. In 2016, MFA donated GAL mobile water purification, storage and distribution vehicles to drought-stricken Papua New Guinea and to the Pacific Marshall Islands.
5. Earlier this month, the MFA’s MASHAV-Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation established the Kenya Israel Drought Resilience Agriculture Centre to help in capacity-building with the latest Israeli irrigation and water-resources management know-how.
6. MASHAV’s special envoy for water and food security went to Swaziland this month with the director of overseas training, programs and research at MASHAV-affiliated Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation to conduct a water survey by request of Swaziland’s prime minister. The experts are identifying possible areas of cooperation in combating drought and a shortage of water for agriculture.
7. Following a May 2016 earthquake in Ecuador, IsraAID brought a new Israeli water-purification technology from NUFiltration to several affected villages. Instead of having to buy bottled drinking water, residents can use the NUF system to turn washing water into purified drinking water without electricity. NUF was first piloted by the company in Ghana as a humanitarian project to prevent diseases from contaminated water.
8. The Tel Aviv University chapter of Engineers without Borders designed and built a rainwater collection and purification system in a Tanzanian village where the drinking water had dangerously high amounts of fluoride. Since the project was finished in 2014, it has been supplying safe drinking water to more than 400 children daily.
9. The Technion Engineers without Borders chapter designed and implemented a safe drinking-water system serving more than 600 Ethiopian schoolchildren in a rural village with no reliable source of water for drinking and handwashing. The Israelis taught the older children how to maintain the system and treat the water, and continue to provide support to assure a safe and sustainable water supply.
10. In June 2015, the Israeli Ministry of Economy committed $500,000 to the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice to help developing countries overcome complex water security challenges. The agreement has included two years of study tours and other activities for World Bank staff and officials of various governments.
Israel21cis a nonprofit educational foundation with a mission to focus media and public attention on the 21st-century Israel that exists beyond the conflict. For more, or to donate, visit israel21c.org.
An ancient water reservoir at Petra. (photo by Orli Fields)
Desert living is tough. The toughest part of it is having water fit for consumption. Nobody knew this better than the Nabatean people. The desert was their home.
Some 2,600 years ago, the Nabateans daringly accepted the challenge of finding and supplying water to their people. They did this by building desert towns with life-sustaining water systems.
Archeologists and hydrologists have studied the waterworks at the Nabatean town of Petra. They report that Petra stood in a huge desert canyon, in what is today the country of Jordan. This area receives little rain. Petra gets only about six inches of rain a year. Temperatures go from a low of 34°F to a high of 94°F (1.1°C-34.4°C). For about half the year, the daytime temperatures are quite high. Yet 30,000 people once lived in Petra.
Petra is far from any ocean, sea, river or lake, but the Nabateans did not lack for water. Three things made this possible: the Nabateans had very smart water engineers, they had skilled builders and they had talented water managers.
The engineers’ biggest worry was getting Petra to save as much water as possible. So, first, they designed a water system covering the whole city. The system collected a maximum amount of water from two sources: from rain and from local springs.
The engineers had several considerations. For instance, they had to worry about the ups and downs of yearly rainfall. They had to take into account the ups and downs of temperature. And they had to overcome the ups and downs of Petra’s mountainous surroundings.
The engineers also had to lower the risk of the system getting blocked. They realized that water pipes that ran along the side of a mountain would be hard to clean. Thus, they designed special water filters. These filters made it easy to trap and remove rocks or silt. If there were particles, they would settle in the reservoirs, not in the pipes. The engineers’ design was practical. It functioned throughout the year and, importantly, provided for a lot of water storage. It included crisscrossing water pipelines, channels, dams, tunnels, reservoirs and cisterns (totaling some 200 surface and underground units).
When looking at Petra’s water system, it is important to note how it was built. There were no motorized digging machines or hauling trucks, of course. All work was done by hand. The chisel was probably the most commonly used tool and, with this simple tool, builders carved an amazing water system.
Water managers had to maintain good water pressure and water flow. Too much pressure, for example, would cause a pipe to break, and that would result in wasted water. The managers’ goal was to maximize flow while minimizing leakage. They did this in part by operating a partial flow of water.
Also to reduce water leakage, the water managers used a particular kind of pipe. This pipe was often made from clay baked at high temperatures; it was short, with thin walls. Even with this innovation, Petra’s mountains and its irregular rainfall and temperatures must have meant that water managers were always on the alert.
And, sometimes, they were really “put to the test” – for example, when a large camel caravan entered Petra. When a large group of dusty and thirsty traders and animals arrived, it meant one thing: a sudden increase in the demand for water. Water would be needed for drinking and bathing. For such situations, water managers needed to ensure that back-up water sources were working.
In times of real emergency, the Nabateans had numerous storage centres. Scientists figure that some sites held three weeks’ emergency supply while other sites held several months’ supply. Thus, inhabitants had some insurance against a siege or drought.
Scientists have estimated that about 12 million gallons (or more than 45 million litres) of fresh spring water ran through Petra’s water channels daily. Water was relatively plentiful and also accessible – residents could easily reach the water that ran into nearby fountains.
The Nabateans also traveled through present-day Israel. Along what is today recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage Incense Route, the Nabateans established forts and settlements. In agricultural communities such as Shivta, they “captured” rainwater to grow grapes for wine production.
Both in travel and at home, the Nabateans’ water systems were as complex as they were practical. Even in ancient times, they overcame the harshness of desert living. They harnessed its unpredictability and thrived.
Deborah Rubin Fieldsis an Israel-based features writer. She is also the author of Take a Peek Inside: A Child’s Guide to Radiology Exams, published in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
EcoPeace Middle East is an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian organization dedicated to environmental peace building, primarily through water diplomacy. (photo from EcoPeace Middle East)
EcoPeace was created by Gidon Bromberg some 22 years ago after he made the connection between ecology and the lack of cooperation between the region’s various authorities regarding water issues.
At the time, he was studying for a master’s in environmental law in Washington, D.C. When he returned to Israel, he organized the very first gathering of Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian environmentalists. On the second day of the meeting, in December 1994, an agreement was struck to create EcoPeace Middle East.
Bromberg has been working together with Jordanian Munqeth Mehyar since then and Palestinian Nader Khateeb since 2001 to create an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian organization dedicated to environmental peace building, primarily through water diplomacy, and to the advancement – through both top-down advocacy and community-led grassroots work – of cross-border cooperation concerning shared water resources, pollution issues and sustainable development issues. Half of their programming is bottom-up community work through the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project, now into its 15th year of operation.
“The second half of our work is advocacy aimed at influencing the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian governments, as well as at garnering support from the international community in advancing dialogue and cooperation between them,” Bromberg told the Independent.
The underlying assumption behind their efforts on all fronts is that regional cooperation is in each party’s best self-interest. “As altruism is not a common feature of foreign policy, particularly not in the midst of conflict, speaking to the self-interest of each side enables us to create political will for cooperation that ultimately serves the region as a whole,” said Bromberg.
Over the years, EcoPeace’s major areas of work have been focused on the rehabilitation of the Jordan River; a regional plan for sustainable development in the Jordan Valley; water and the peace process; Gaza’s water, sanitation and energy crisis; the water-energy nexus in the region; and the Red Sea-Dead Sea conduit.
Since its establishment, EcoPeace Middle East has seen many periods of extreme hostility and bloodshed in the region but, in the midst of that, has been able to make headway.
“Joint work of Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians through EcoPeace’s programs has brought the leveraging of more than half a billion U.S. dollars in recent years for water supply and sanitation solutions in the GWN communities, all with a strong cross-border effect, i.e. removal of sewage from shared resources,” said Bromberg. “EcoPeace has also been able to convene Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian government representatives together and generate dialogue between them around issues such as the Jordan River, at a time when no such meetings were taking place.”
At the community level, EcoPeace holds many cross-border youth gatherings every year, wherein kids not only learn about the interdependency of their and their neighbors’ water reality, but also about each other, in an effort to break down negative stereotypes.
One of the biggest achievements of EcoPeace in terms of bringing together people from the three countries has been the facilitation of relations between Jordan Valley mayors, who have rallied together to demand joint governmental cooperation toward rehabilitating the river.
“As far as positive ripple effects, very much due to our work, there is a growing realization amongst the various stakeholders, including decision makers, that regional sustainable development is crucial for geopolitical stability and for security in the region, for economic growth, public health and other aspects of life in the region,” said Bromberg.
EcoPeace’s notion of water as a political game changer in the region, for example, is slowly but surely becoming a part of the political discourse.
“The Jordan River is a good example of persistence that has recently started to pay off,” said Bromberg. “Ten years ago, when we were trying to convince the Israeli Water Authority (IWA) to release fresh water from the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River, something which had then not happened for almost 60 years, one of the seniors raised his palm and said, ‘Gidon, when hair grows on this palm, that’s when fresh water will flow again from the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River.’”
Nonetheless, by mid-2013, following years of advocacy by EcoPeace and others, the IWA released nine million cubic metres (mcm) of water into the river, committing to raise this volume to 30 mcm in the near future. This is only a drop in the bucket, however. Based on research commissioned for the project, the estimate is that 400 mcm overall is required to rehabilitate the river – and not all from the Sea of Galilee, which is in Israeli territory, but also from Jordan and Syria.
This is a very important first step, said Bromberg, who is certain of EcoPeace’s ability, with the help of many partners, to convince the relevant decision makers to allow for more significant volumes of water to flow into the river.
“Times now are particularly difficult in our region,” he said. “Hostility between Israelis and Palestinians has reached a whole new level, a frightening environment that, for the most part, does not react well to cooperation.”
Bromberg believes that, through providing youth in each of their communities with opportunities and cooperation with their neighbors, even this complex environment can be overcome.
Weizmann Canada event speaker Dr. Brian Berkowitz, centre, with attendees David Berson, left, and Raffi Reitzik. (photo by Sydney Switzer)
Everyone who attended the Oct. 15 lecture The Quest for Clean Water left the intimate theatre at Science World with a thoughtful look, still digesting the sheer mass of information Weizmann Institute of Science Prof. Brian Berkowitz shared.
The event was introduced by local Weizmann Canada chapter member Dr. Hillary Vallance, a medical biochemist at B.C. Children’s Hospital and a professor at the University of British Columbia. UBC Prof. Jonathan Berkowitz took the stage next to give a more in-depth and personal introduction of the speaker, who happens to be his brother.
Brian Berkowitz heads the department of earth and planetary sciences at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. His talk took many twists and turns, the topics ranging from recent developments in his lab around technologies in water purification, to nanoparticles in sunscreen. He took the audience into the world of hydrology (the study of water), sharing facts, advice and stories.
He began with the message of how interconnected everything is on the planet. But one example is the regular occurrence of a dust cloud from the Sahara blowing minerals to the Amazon to enrich the soil in the rainforests there. He believes that “greening” the Sahara would kill the Brazilian rainforests. In addition, he predicts that, within as little as a decade, parts of Europe and North America will become much cooler because of interference of the melting glaciers in Greenland with an oceanic current.
The Weizmann Institute has some 2,700 staff and students who explore basic science, he explained. And it is this freedom to delve into basic science that has produced so many breakthroughs, including those in the area of water purification.
“Working at the Weizmann Institute is a dream job,” he said. “I know my research will be supported, that I can get expensive equipment if I need it, with no pressure. The only thing I need to do is be the very best in the world at what I’m doing.”
Diving into the topic of the evening, Berkowitz said that, in northern Alberta, there are vast pools of water made highly toxic by its use in oil production. The water came from the Athabasca River and sits in pools, contaminating the environment, untreated.
Berkowitz has discovered a technology that would not only decontaminate this water, but could make it so clean that it would be drinkable. Why is it not being used? “The technology is expensive,” he said. “More importantly, it is difficult to change people’s perception about where the water came from, so they don’t want it back into their water systems even though it’s been purified.”
He gave the example of an experiment where people were asked first to swallow regularly a number of times. Then they were asked to spit into a glass of water and drink their own saliva mixed with the water. The subjects found it difficult to stomach their own saliva. This simple study illustrated the difficulty in convincing governments to give the go ahead on releasing water that was once toxic waste.
Another challenge with the technologies that his and other labs produce is the expense of getting them to market. Berkowitz said investors are looking for a big, quick return and, at this stage, making clean water does not generate the kind of money necessary for the capital required. Even governments are not yet prepared to invest. Eventually, there will be little choice but, for now, much of Berkowitz’s technology stays with the Weizmann Institute, ready for the future.
Although it is frustrating that existing technology sits idle instead of cleaning up environmental disasters, Berkowitz had some good news. He discussed ways in which perceived water shortages can be mitigated. “Most cities waste 30% of their clean, treated water through leaky pipes,” he said. “It’s not so much an issue of shortage, as a distribution problem.” He also encouraged people to eat less beef. “It takes 15,000 litres of clean water to produce one kilogram of beef. If people ate less meat, we’d save a lot of water.”
Berkowitz explained how he has made a number of groundbreaking discoveries by being in the right place at the right time. He spoke of an experiment that caused an explosion in his lab when he was out for lunch – and led to the discovery of a technique using nano-disruptive technology to purify very polluted water completely in eight hours.
Berkowitz then took questions from the audience, which led to a discussion on the organic food movement and the dangers associated with the “natural” elemental chemicals used in organic farming that he believes are, in many cases, more harmful than manufactured pesticides. He also opened other cans of worms with examples of how pharmaceuticals are polluting the world’s water supply; which foods absorb toxins through groundwater; why sunscreen is scary; and his new project that uses MRIs of rocks to predict how long an oil spill will take to reach groundwater. All topics, hopefully, of future Weizmann lectures.
For more information on how you can become involved with the Vancouver chapter of Weizmann Canada, contact development associate Camille Wenner at 604-260-8506 or 604-315-4430 (cellphone), [email protected] or via weizmann.ca.
Michelle Dodekis a freelance writer living in Vancouver.
A July 2014 Planet Labs satellite image of a reservoir in California’s Lake County that supplies water to nearby Yolo County. In a non-drought year, according to Planet Labs, the visible water would cover roughly twice the area as it does in this picture. (photo from Planet Labs via Wikimedia Commons)
California headlines this month scream “water shortage” – but the shortage is not limited to the western United States. According to a recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while the demand for freshwater resources is increasing, the supply remains constant and many regions are starting to feel the pressure. The report states that water managers in 40 of 50 states expect water shortages in some portion of their states within the next 10 years.
Amid this grave prognosis, a new Israeli research project might make the Jewish state an important part of the solution.
In what is arguably one of the most innovative water research consortiums to date, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Australia’s Monash University are working to develop “water-sensitive cities.” The description for the project, which is funded by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), says that water-sensitive cities adopt and combine decentralized and centralized water management solutions to deliver water security. The data gathered from the project may be used to support development of urban master plans in cities in Israel and around the world.
Researchers are grouped into teams, each focusing on a different aspect of creating water-sensitive cities.
Eran Friedler, senior research fellow and head of the Water Forum Project at Technion, leads a team whose objective is to develop a holistic vision for water-sensitive cities in Israel encompassing scientific, economic and societal aspects, and accounting for the potential effects of global warming on temperatures and rainfall regimes. The analysis seeks to quantify the effect of urbanization and changing urban texture on storm water harvesting potential.
Evyatar Erell, a professor in the Bona Terra Department of Man in the Desert at BGU, is responsible for water-sensitive urban planning and design. He explained that his role is to examine conventional hydrological planning of cities and to see how it can be improved. This means reducing impermeable surfaces (sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, etc.) in favor of more permeable surfaces, sometimes innovative ones, such as green roofs or the infusion of small bits of garden along footpaths.
“We are trying to determine how to use water as effectively as possible, to maximize its benefits to pedestrians, reduce energy consumption by our buildings, and ensure environmental sustainability,” said Erell.