Reservoir to help farmers, Gaza evacuees in Negev

Reservoir to help farmers, Gaza evacuees in Negev
Jerusalem Post - Sept. 28, 2005

Mekorot plans to invest NIS 55 million towards the construction of a new reservoir and pumping station in the western Negev to aid farmers of five existing communities and three others that will house evacuated residents of Gush Katif.

Mekorot Director-General Ronen Wolfman said the reservoir would take in recycled water piped to the area from the Dan region's sewage treatment plants.

He noted that the purified sewage, which is conveyed to southern parts of the Negev via what is known as the third Negev pipeline, went through three separate treatment processes.

Wolfman explained that it was treated twice at the actual plants and then pumped through sand into underground caverns along the coast, which acts as a natural filter.

The purified sewage was deemed to be of a sufficiently high quality for the irrigation of virtually all crops.

The filtered water was then brought back to the surface through some 100 drilling wells before being connected to the third Negev pipeline.

Wolfman said Mekorot had been operating this system since 1989 and supplied around 130 million cubic meters a year of this high-quality recycled water to southern and western areas of the Negev for agricultural purposes.

This system reduced the use of fresh water that was reserved for domestic and industrial purposes, while preventing sewage flowing into the sea and, thereby, averting any maritime environmental contamination, he said.

The new reservoir is to be constructed in the western Negev, south of existing Talmei Yosef communities in the area. The project, which will include three pumping units, is set to begin within a month.

Mekorot experts expect the irrigation requirements of farmers from the established communities and the three more slated to be constructed would reach around 28.6 million cubic meters a year.

The new reservoir that will be covered by plastic sheeting to prevent contamination for air-borne pollutants and also minimize evaporation, will have a holding capacity of some four million cubic meters.

It will be uncovered in the winter to allow replenishment from rainfall and kept topped up, when necessary, in the Spring as well as throughout the Summer through the third Negev pipeline.