Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Water and Ambulances

Finally residents in the North of the country are going to have their own ambulance service. A new Magen David Adom station has been established in Carmiel with the generosity of British Friends of Magen David Adom.

The new station will serve not only Carmiel but also Tefen and the Arab villages in the area. The communities in the north have been waiting for 30 years for this day and finally the patience has been rewarded for the 150,000 residents of the area.

Meanwhile further to the East, the Sea of Galilee has reached its lowest level in five years, the Water Authority announced Monday. The water level in the lake was -212.59 meters at the end of 2007, which is 3.79 m. below the top red line. The last time the lake dropped that low was on March 9, 2003.

Israel's main source of drinking water dropped 42 cm. in 2007, the authority said. In addition, since 2004, the Sea of Galilee's water level has been steadily decreasing. This is in part because of below-average rainfall over the last three years, the Water Authority said.

If this winter does not produce more rainfall, it will be the worst four years since the early 60s, the authority warned. Four consecutive years of below-average additions to the Sea of Galilee have only occurred twice in the last 77 years.

In the short term, pure drinking water is planned to be diverted from agricultural use to households, in addition, the water authority has embarked upon a campaign to promote efficient use of water. It's a campaign with a twist, as it's directed at Israel's youngest inhabitants.

"The focus of the campaign is on children. A spokesman said "If I come into your house and see you washing dishes and the water is running all the time, I'll ask you to stop and change how you wash your dishes. And to be polite, you'll do so, but go back to what you know tomorrow, however, if parents feel a tug on their leg while they are washing dishes and their children ask them to change their ways, then they will, because they want to assure their children they've been taught the right message."

In the long term, Israel has put its full support behind desalination plants. Said the spokesman, "In the longer range, the Water Authority is working to stabilize the water market and reduce reliance on natural sources," There are currently two desalination plants operational in Israel and another three expected to be online by 2013.

The plant in Ashkelon is the biggest of its kind in the world and produces 108m. cubic meters of water a year and a smaller one in Palmahim produces 30m. cubic meters. A plant near Hadera is set to open by 2009 with a capacity of 100m. cubic meters. Another two plants, one in Ashdod and another near Nahal Sorek, are expected to be ready by 2013. The total capacity of all the plants would then stand at 505m. cubic meters a year, which would go a long way toward satisfying demand.. Israel consumes about 700m. cubic meters of pure drinking water a year.

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