Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, recycling, re-using wastewater and similar fields. Much of this information has been researched and implemented by KKL-JNF, who is happy to share knowledge with other countries and professional bodies throughout the world. With the help of its friends worldwide, KKL-JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel's water crisis, including building water reservoirs, developing biological water technologies to purify wastewater for reuse, and river restoration.
Orvim Reservoir. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF, as Israel’s major environmental organization, provides the platform for cooperation between experts from Israel and from around the world, for the benefit of all parties involved.
Utilizing urban runoff has the potential to supply tens of millions of cubic meters of water annually. Utilizing this water however, requires a sophisticated purification system as a biofilter
. KKL-JNF gathered water experts to formulate recommendations for integrating the system in Israel’s urban infrastructure, creating water sensitive cities.
Canada and Israel are in an ongoing exchange of information regarding their identical problems in preserving water sources and removing pollutants from natural bodies of water (rivers, lakes and aquifers). These shared interests speedily led to regular, permanent, joint research. As part of this cooperation, the Manitoba-Israel Water Symposium convenes periodically.
H2010 symposium. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
One of the actions was the signing of a partnership agreement between Lake Agmon and the Oak Hammock Wetlands in Manitoba. Information is exchanged in fields such as scientific research, visitor center management and activities for the public.
Together with the State of Manitoba in Canada, KKL-JNF is working to advance the field of water management in large reservoirs.The first proposed project is the construction of a greenhouse in northern Manitoba aimed at producing fresh vegetables for First Nations inhabitants.
A formal document for research collaboration between KKL-JNF and the Alberta Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation was signed in May 2005 in order to support research in the field of water by teams from both countries. Several research projects have since been approved for funding.
Research and professional ties are intensively underway with the Manitoba Ministry of Water Stewardship. These include the sponsorship of a Water Symposium in Manitoba with Israeli researchers attending, the funding of collaborative research, and the establishment of a program to bring exchange students from Manitoba to study water related subjects in Israel.
Water Sensitive Cities
Every year, about 200 million cubic meters of polluted runoff water are absorbed by the sewage system and channeled to the sea. When water is found in close proximity to where it will ultimately be used and is in good quality, it is important for nearby cities to be water sensitive. A water sensitive city is a term referring to a city which has a system to manage the journey of water through urban and built-up environments to support the natural environment and the water's natural rural destination. Such a change in water management makes use of the natural movement of water and harvests, channels and stores the water that is found in urban regions and takes advantage of it. Water sensitivity upholds three main principles that support its foundation:
- Diversity of supply scales, mainly by harvesting water as a resource that needs to be protected
- Providing ecosystem services using the built environment functions to support the functions of the natural environment
- A water sensitive community aware of the water crisis and the existing technology to preserve it
The biolfilter system is one of the methods making use of runoff water and reintroducing it into the aquifer for urban use after purification.
KKL-JNF is leading the process together with JNF Australia and Monash University in Australia, whose staff developed this method of purifying urban runoff. This process is being handled by a steering committee comprised of representatives of KKL-JNF, the Israel Water Authority, Mekorot Water Company and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
KKL-JNF's Water Sensitive Cities Conference. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Manitoba-Israel Water Experts
Although the scale of water-projects varies greatly between Manitoba in Canada and Israel, there are many elements in common. For example, despite the difference in size, Israel faces similar nutrient management issues in Lake Kinneret that Manitoba faces in Lake Winnipeg. The only Israeli counterpart to the Canadian "wetlands" can be found in the Hula Lake.
It was in 2008 when the Manitoba Water Stewardship department and KKL-JNF Canada hosted the first ever Manitoba-Israel Water Experts Symposium in Winnipeg, with about two dozen Israeli and Manitoba scientists. The 11-man Israeli delegation of water experts led by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Israel Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, reached a cooperation agreement with the Canadian province of Manitoba. A year later, Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick announced the establishment of a grant fund devoted to research in water resources management.
As a result of this collaboration, four projects have already been instituted:
- The 2008 Manitoba - Israel Water Experts Symposium
- The Minister's scholarship for international water studies for students
- Joint Manitoba - Israel research projects
- The 2010 Manitoba Israel Water Experts Symposium
Oak Hammock Wetlands and Hula Valley
A twin-site treaty for the promotion of the combined development of two major bird-conservation sites – Lake Hula in Israel and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba – has been signed in October 2010 between KKL-JNF and the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
The partnership agreement was signed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick at a ceremony held at Lake Hula Park
. It is designed to formalize cooperation on site development, scientific research, educational activities and management challenges. Upon signing the agreement, Minister Christine Melnick has said: "We hope that this collaboration between the two countries will enable Lake Hula and Oak Hammock Marsh nature reserve to reach their full potential both as tourist attractions possessed of a rich and varied ecological system that feeds significant freshwater sources and as major way stations for migrating birds.”
Minister Melnick and KKL-JNF World Chairman Stenzler. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Oak Hammock Marsh Park covers 36 thousand dunam (approx nine thousand acres). It is the remains of what was once a large lake, and it attracts a great deal of wild life, including some 280 species of birds that either pass through the site or nest in it. Half a million geese and duck pass every year though the park, which is considered one of North America’s prime bird-watching locations. Visitors to the park have thirty kilometers of trails at their disposal, together with a modern visitors’ center.
The Hula Valley is one of the most unique regions in northern Israel, and the Hula Lake Park is considered one the most important birdwatching sites in the world. Lush, green fields are interspersed throughout the valley surrounded by imposing mountains on the east and the west. The striking black volcanic basalt hills south of the valley slowed down the flow of melted snow and rain from Mt. Hermon creating historic Lake Hula and its surrounding wetlands, which served as a filter for the water flowing into Lake Kinneret. At different seasons it hosts cranes, storks, pelicans, ducks, raptors and many water birds. KKL-JNF was among those who established the lake in the early 1990s, and it remains among the sites managers today.
Manitoba and Israel are very different from each other. For example, Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes, some of which are larger than the entire State of Israel, while Israel has only one sizable lake: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The two countries’ bird-conservation sites, however, have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research.