I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water. – Isaiah
Always ready and willing to go to the heights and depths for a good story, this intrepid greenie spent part of yesterday with a bunch of journalists under the soil of Israel, submerged in a rusty water tunnel, courtesy of Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company.
Many in Israel talk of the mis-management here of this scarcest of resources, and it is also clear how water has been used as a political tool; with the Palestinians, shipped in from the Turks, and even secretly siphoned from desert aquifers away from other Middle East countries.
An interview with a water expert at Sde Boker some years ago alerted me to how water access is a conduit to talks, negotiations and deals (many of them secret) across the Middle East, and that the fragility of this resource sometimes binds a fragile peace.
Mekorot is 70 years-old this year, and the company is justly proud of its achievements before the State was founded. These include the Kishon Water Project in 1938, drilling for water in deep mines in the Negev, providing water to remote moshavim and kibbutzim, and laying the Shiloach pipeline to Jerusalem during the War Of Independence. Right now, the company is proud of recently building the Central Filtration Plant at Eshkol, which handles more than 500 million cubic metres of water annually.
Their Dan Region wastewater treatment plant, the Shafdan, treats around 130 million cubic metres of wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use. Other areas they are working in include desalination and partnership with Israeli startups on water technology.
But it was a close-up look at the National Water Carrier (the NWC) that brought us underground, and a walk in the pipe that would ordinarily be transporting water brought from the Kinneret to the Central Region, then to the Negev and snowy Jerusalem. Here flows the H2O that makes my morning tea and powers my showers. The water that we all use too much of and fret too little over.
This is the resource I’m wading in, slightly concerned that the main tap or pump might be accidentally knocked, and those couple of million gallons or so might knock us all flat. Secretly I’m dreaming of being in a pristine lake somewhere, at one with the water and the world.
We talk of the poisoning of the fish and water recently in the Kinneret, and how such environmental damage has consequences across the food and water chain. Biblical prophesies and jubilant celebrations at water tech and transportation aside, as other water posts on our site reinforce (see previous posts: Cesspools or green basins and Kishon River pollution) water is probably the key environmental and human-nurturing issue here in the Middle East.
Let’s truly cherish it, and protect every drop.