Water Reservoirs

HaKoren Reservoir. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF has been building reservoirs for several years and now the total number of such reservoirs has reached over 230! The reservoirs benefit the water systems, the environment, agriculture and the economy in the most practical ways
Although it is accepted that this sphere of KKL-JNF's activity is most welcome, development of reservoirs is generally considered a routine, technical matter and there is little awareness of the many extra advantages of these reservoirs to different sectors of society. We will point out just a few.

Progressive Agriculture from KKL-JNF Reservoirs

  • The reservoirs that collect runoff water and those that store treated sewage water make it possible to redirect other sources of water for Israel’s water system, as the reservoirs main and primary purpose is to increase the balance of water available for use. The reservoirs produce 260 million cubic meters annually. In 2010, the water in reservoirs built by KKL-JNF provided about half of the water consumed by Israeli agriculture.
  • By storing effluent (partly purified sewage water) in reservoirs, the effluent is prevented from flowing into the environment, thereby preventing pollution of rivers, soil, underground water sources and bodies of water into which the waters flow (the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee - Lake Kinneret, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea). The Israeli rivers’ restoration projects would have no meaningful significance unless the flow of sewage and effluent into the rivers is stopped by means of controlled storage in reservoirs that are custom-made for the task.
  • When the effluent reaches the reservoirs, its quality is significantly upgraded (except for the water loss through evaporation) as it allows for the settling and oxygenation processes to happen, the microbes that break up the remaining organic matter to do their work, UV rays to cause pathogenic disinfestations and for other processes to take place.
  • The effluents (which are loaded with fertilizers thereby saving costs) are used for agricultural irrigation in places with little rain, enabling intensive, profitable agriculture even in regions where without the treated sewage water, there would be no agriculture at all. Now, the availability of water can allow for two-and-a-half growth cycles in a year.
  • Reservoir technology has improved, becoming incomparably more effective and sophisticated over the years as a result of the accompanying research and development, as well as the lessons learned by KKL-JNF from actual experience in building reservoirs in past decades. This includes using sealing technology using plastic sheets, reservoir enginieering, preventing embankments from collapsing, improvements in maintenance and access, extending previously existing reservoirs, and hydraulic control.
  • The construction of reserviors provides economic support to a wide variety of industries involved in the physical, technical-practical and operative maintenance of their infrastructure, such as the plastic-sheet sealing industry, water pipes, filters, pumps, irrigation systems, control systems and fences.
  • Sewage-water reservoirs whose construction, operation and maintenance are in the hands of farmers’ local water corporations offer their farmers irrigation water at prices that are very low in comparison with water’s nominal market price. So low in fact, that the managers of water corporations are not ready to reveal the prices that the farmers pay. Obviously, this relatively low price makes agriculture much more profitable and worthwhile for the farmer, to the benefit of everyone involved.
  • KKL-JNF’s reservoirs, with their loyal service to Israel’s water system, are a favorite objective for potential KKL-JNF donors overseas, who recognize the reservoirs’ definite importance to the water system, settlement and agriculture in outlying regions. This entire wonderful enterprise is a win-win situation: KKL-JNF has a superb international project, overseas contributions to reservoirs are highly appreciated, Israel’s water system expands, and agriculture is able to prosper.
  • The donors do not simply transfer funds to Israel and content themselves with having thus identified with the country. When it comes to reservoirs they feel they are deeply involved in the creation of a truly life-giving project: they are helping to produce something out of nothing, generating water in the arid conditions of a waterless wilderness. Their feelings of pride and satisfaction in bringing the desert and agriculture to life deepen their attachment and bonds to Israel.
  • The reservoirs built by KKL-JNF are spread all over Israel – adding a lot of blue to the map of the country. They add beauty to the scenery, provide a habitat for many birds and fish, create ecological hubs and also provide an environment that delights the eyes and the souls of local residents, farmers, hikers and all other visitors. Just one look from the top of Mount Gilboa over the Harod Valley with its many reservoirs, or a glimpse from the heights of the Belvoir Fortress (Kochav Hayarden) over the Jordan Valley and Kibbutz Neveh Ur is enough to satisfy anyone that these blue pools make an ecological-environmental contribution that is priceless.
Besor Reservoir. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Floodwater Reservoirs

Out of the 220 reservoirs that KKL-JNF has built throughout the country with the help of contributions worldwide, forty are reservoirs built specifically for trapping floodwaters in the north and south of the country, enabling life in the desert and the Arava. Examples for these include the following installments:

Zuqim and Hatzeva Reservoirs: The original Zuqim reservoir in the central Arava was established thanks to friends of JNF Canada. The reservoir had been widened and enlarged with the help of The Sapphire Society, JNF America. A state-of-the-art pumping system had been installed to bring the water into the regional water-supply system. The enlarged reservoir has a capacity of 850,000 cubic meters of water entering from the floods that stream through the riverbeds periodically. At such times, Mekorot, the national water company, does supplementary work installing equipment required to mix water from the reservoir with local brackish water for agricultural purposes.

Hazeva Reservoir in the Arava Valley collects floodwaters flowing through Negev streams in winter, which water is used for the irrigation of nearby fields thus saving water that would otherwise be piped from the north or pumped from local wells. Surplus water is pumped into the aquifer to replenish dwindling groundwater.

Ami Shaham, Head of the Arava Drainage Authority says: “The Zuqim reservoir is one of five reservoirs along Nahal Ha’arava itself: "Eshet", "Zuqim", "Niqrot", "Hatzeva" and "Eidan". These are “overflow” reservoirs that water flows into during flooding. The first reservoir then fills up and surplus water spills out into the riverbed, flowing into the next reservoir. The reservoirs were built in the direction of the water flow from south to north. Every additional drop of water contributes to creating new fields and sources of livelihood, so that the youth will stay in the region and new people will be able to come. KKL-JNF is the Arava’s hope for development and growth.”

Betarim Floodwater Reservoir: Thanks to friends of KKL-JNF Switzerland, KKL-JNF will participate in building a 400,000-cubic meter floodwater reservoir to collect floodwater that flows into Nahal Betarim. This northern Negev reservoir will prevent flooding of the Be'er Sheva-Shoket highway and furthermore, it will not be sealed so that its surplus water can recharge the underground water. The reservoir is part of an ecological-tourist project where scenic landscaping is planned for a 14-square kilometer area to Shoket Junction that will include local plants and a scenic lookout through the woods overlooking the reservoir.

Construction of Tifrah Reservoir in the Negev. Photo: Nataly Kadosh, KKL-JNF Jerusalem