KKL-JNF Reservoirs Provide Priceless Benefits

Sunday, November 30, 2008 3:00 PM
By Dr. Avi Gafni*
KKL-JNF has been building reservoirs for several years and now the total number of such reservoirs has reached 200!  The reservoirs benefit the water systems, the environment, agriculture and the economy in the most practical ways.  Nevertheless, although it is accepted that this sphere of KKL-JNF's activity is most welcome, building 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.
  • Both 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 are basically huge water receptacles: in 2008 their static volume was 150 million cubic meters of water in one-time storage while their dynamic volume, with emptying and refilling, amounts to a total of 270 million cubic meters of treated effluent a year! The purification work continues throughout the year, including during the winter months, so that the water is ready for agricultural irrigation during the spring, summer and autumn months.


  • By storing effluent (partly purified sewage water) in reservoirs the effluent is prevented from flowing into the environment, thereby preventing pollution of the rivers, the soil, the underground water and of the 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.


From the top of Mount Gilboa over the Harod Valley Reservoirs. Photo: KKL Photos Archive


  • When the effluent is in 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, for the microbes that break up the remaining organic matter to do their work, for 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.  But now, because water is available, there can even be 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 R&D as well as of the lessons learned by KKL-JNF from actual experience in building reservoirs in past decades.  This includes sealing technology using plastic sheets, engineering of the reservoir, preventing embankments from collapsing, improvements in maintenance and access, extending previously existing reservoirs and hydraulic control.


  • When reservoirs are constructed, economic support is spread 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.


From the heights of the Belvoir Fortress over the Jordan Valley. Photo: KKL Photos Archive


  • 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, to settlement and to agriculture in outlying regions.  This whole, 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 scattered 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.



* Dr. Avi Gafni coordinates KKL-JNF’s research studies, promotes cooperation in international research, leads professional tours for KKL-JNF guests and for journalists, and directs the Dimona Project which aims to build a “green basin” to purify Dimona’s sewage and then use it for irrigating a commercial forest of tamarisk and eucalyptus trees.