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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘water’

Is Israel Hiding Water for Fat Cats’ Red-Dead Sea Pipeline?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Politicians were falling all over themselves Monday to celebrate the signing in Washington of the agreement for what once was a pipe dream of a pipeline to pump water from the Red Sea to the Dead Seam, with the New Age of Peace involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a historic measure, which realizes a dream of many years. We have here politically important strategic cooperation between that Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority,” said Minister National Infrastructures Silvan Shalom.

The first phase of the mammoth project will include a desalination plant in Aqaba and will pipe water into the Dead Sea, the lowest point of earth and which has gone lower every year to the point that there are real fears it will disappear altogether one day.

The idea sounds great, and if it comes off without a hitch, it definitely will change the face of the southern Negev and Arava regions and the Jordan Valley, on both sides of the Jordan River.

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel all are holding hands together in a project that is supposed to show that the need for water can overcome politics and distrust.

The agreement for what is officially known as the Two Seas Project was signed in Washington by Shalom and Jordanian and Palestinian Authority water officials. The ceremony took place at the World Bank, which is raising up to $400 million from donor countries and philanthropists.

The entire bill for a much larger Dead-Red conveyance project is around $10 billion.

This is the same World Bank that helped finance and engineer Israel’s turning over agricultural infrastructure and greenhouses in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority regime in 2005, after the expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of the IDF.

That boondoggle does not mean that the World Bank is always right, but it certainly means it is not always right. It is more interested in politics than economics, and good politics today means creating facts on the ground for the Great Middle East Peace.

In five years, water is supposed to start flowing into the Dead Sea, but the proposed amount is only a fraction of what the Dead Sea loses every year because evaporation and industrial use, such as the Dead Sea Works.

The project will give Jordan much needed water resources. Israel has agreed to pump more water from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, which is Ramallah’s take for agreeing to forfeit claims that the northern part of the Dead Sea is to be under its sovereignty in its version of a Palestinian country.

So what could be wrong with such a project that increases the water supply and brings back the Dead Sea from levels that could endanger the environment?

Politically, like everything else in the Middle East, it is a gamble. Jordan is on the threshold of an explosion. “Palestinians” and Bedouin make up the bulk of the population but are least represented in the government. The Palestinian Authority still is a country on paper, most of it being the Euros on which it survives.

Financially, the project puts a tremendous burden on the world, but who cares so long as the new corporate universe needs these investments to feed their money machines.

The military-industry complex has sold trillions of dollars in weapons everywhere except Antarctica. Russian and China don’t care whether Iran gets a nuclear bomb so long as they can feed their appetite for billions of dollars by helping the Islamic Republic build nuclear facilities.

And now we have this new project to pump money into the engineering and construction firms who stand to make a bundle.

Environmentally, the project’s expert claim they have the knowledge and resources to overcome fears that pumping large quantities of Red Sea water into the Dead Sea could damage the Dead Sea’s fragile ecology. As sure as the World Bank is that the project will not upset ecology, the Friends of the Dead Sea are just as sure that the pipeline will destroy the environment

Let’s assume that the World Bank experts are right, which is a hefty assumption in an age where experts can prove anything they want.

The whole project may be unnecessary given that Israel’s own desalination plants will produce so much water that the Kinneret would reach flood levels every year, allowing the dam at the Kinneret to be opened to spill water into the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea.

The Kinneret right now is about 2.6 meters, or 102 inches, below flood level and when the Degania dam would be opened. The lake usually rises more than that amount in a normal year.

It could rise even more because Israel has brought online three desalination plants and is building two more that can supply Israel with almost 70 percent of its water needs.

But the Water Authority has made an amazing decision. It plans to scale back production of desalinated water by 100 million cubic meters, the same amount that will be able to be produced at the facility under construction at Ashdod.

Globes pointed out last month that the government pays for overhead at the desalination plants and also pays for water that it does not buy, as per the contract. The bottom line is that the Water Authority will shell out 60 percent of the cost of water for fixed costs without receiving any water.

And what happens if there are a couple of dry years? Then the Water Authority will start pushing the desalination plants to work overtime while the level of the Dead Sea continues to drop.

Even worse, the Water Authority admitted to Globes, “Even if the plants don’t work at full capacity in the coming year, we will soon definitely need their output. Our models predict an even worse drought than the one before 2011 at the end of the decade. In addition, the Kinneret and aquifers still lack one billion cubic meters of water. The Israeli economy has a structural water shortage, and one rainy year does create a new reality.”

So why is it cutting back production?

Could it possibly be that the Water Authority does not want to open the dam at the Kinneret because doing so would help replenish the Dead Sea, and then how could the Red-Dead Seas project be justified?

Bringing back the Dead Sea to previous levels might not be possible, but it will be at least five years before the Dead-Red pipeline comes on line, and that assumes no political, financial and environmental delays. In the meantime, maximum production at the desalination plants would allow overflow from the Kinneret to add at least the same amount that is projected to come from the Red-Dead pipeline, and probably more in a rainy year, as is predicted this year.

The Water Authority’s reasoning for increasing pumping from the Kinneret instead of using desalinated water, and thus preventing the dam from being opened, is that “it is cheaper to pump water from natural sources than to buy water from the desalination plant at the full rate.”

The Water Authority made a fantastic Orwellian Double Speak statement to Globes. “There is no water surplus,” it said. “There is water production capacity for guaranteeing a reliable water supply, even during droughts. The Israeli government prepared for this in part by building seawater desalination plants, which supply water on the basis of need and the condition of the water economy. During droughts, when natural water supplies fall, we’ll need maximum production by the desalination plants, because the water demand does not change. In years with heavy rain, we have to deduce desalinated water production, because the variable cost is higher than the cost of natural water production.”

The Water Authority is ”saving” money by paying out most of the cost of desalinated water without using it, and it is lessening the need for the dam to be opened, which in turn deprives Jordan of water resources and deprives the Dead Sea of much needed water.

There is no water surplus because the Water Authority is preventing one.

Official Winter Forecast Indicates Kinneret May Reach Flood Level

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Israel will enjoy average rainfall this winter, according to the Israel Meteorological Service, and there is a good chance that the dam  at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) will have to be opened up before summer because of the increasing use of desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea.

The Meteorological Service said its annual winter forecast has a margin of error of up to 25 percent but generally does not miss the mark more than 10 percent in either direction.

The sea has replaced the Kinneret as Israel’s largest source of water, not including the underground aquifer system that is being replenished thanks to the use of more desalinated water.

The Kinneret rose approximately 2.5 meters (8 feet) last winter, which brought average or slightly more than average rainfall in most regions.

As of Monday morning, the Kinneret was exactly 2.5 meters below the level at which the dams would have to be opened to prevent flooding in the beachside city of Tiberias and neighboring farms and tourist parks. If the forecast turns out to be accurate, the Kinneret will rise to near flood level this year.

Opening the dams would dump more water into the Jordan River, which feeds the Dead Sea that is in desperate need of more water.

In Israel, the prayer that cites God as the “rainmaker” began on Shemini Azereth-Simchat Torah, the day after Sukkot. The actually request for rain began two weeks ago, on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan in Israel. The prayer is not said until December 4 outside of Israel.

If rain does not fall within 30 days of the request, special prayers and fast days are held. From a climactic standpoint, Israel received its first rains a month ago during the Sukkot holiday, when a measurable amount of rain, although only 1 millimeter, was recorded in most of the country.

Most of the rain and snow in Israel usually falls in the months of December, January and February.

Arid State of Nevada Seeks Help from Israeli Agricultural Experts

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Nevada is hoping to share best practices on water and crops with Israel In a campaign to revitalize its barren terrain.

The desert-heavy U.S. state’s governor, Brian Sandoval, is planning a trip to Israel’s Negev in October to learn more about indoor farming, and how using Israeli technology could rejuvenate Nevada’s lackluster farming industry.

Nevada suffers greatly due to its lack of water or farmable terrain, and has only 40 acres of indoor farming statewide. An estimated $4 billion was spent on importing food for Las Vegas tourists over the last year. Israel, meanwhile, has historically adapted to chronic water shortages.

“One of the prominent areas of mutual interest is water management,” explained Uri Resnick, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest United States, Jspace.com reported.

 

 

R’ Eliezer Knew More Science than R’ Yehoshua

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This is an interesting interpretation by the Torah Temimah where he uses scientific knowledge to explain a dispute in the Talmud.

The verse in Parshas Breishis states “There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” The Torah Temimah quotes the Babylonian Talmud in Mesechta Taanis 9B that records a dispute between R’ Eliezer and R’ Yehoshua regarding the source of rain.

[Copied from Soncino] “R. Eliezer said: The whole world draws its water supply from the waters of the ocean, as it is said, but there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole of the ground. Thereupon R. Joshua said to him: But are not the waters of the ocean salty? He replied: They are sweetened by the clouds. R. Joshua said: The whole world drinks from the upper waters, as it is said, And drinketh water as the rain of heaven cometh down. If so, what is the force of the verse, ‘But there went up a mist from the earth’? This teaches that the clouds grow in strength as they rise towards the firmament and then open their mouth as a flask and catch the rain water, as it is said, Which distill rain from His vapor, they are perforated like a sieve and they slowly distill waters on the ground.”

The Torah Temimah explains what R’ Eliezer means using (then) modern science. R’ Yehoshua is correct. The waters of the oceans are salty and unfit for drinking. Therefore R’ Yeshoshua concludes that rain water cannot come from the oceans. R’ Eliezer understood that the reason the waters of the ocean must rise to the clouds and then return to the earth is to desalinize the ocean water. Only the water evaporates while the impurities like salt are left behind.

This can be demonstrated by boiling dirty water says the Torah Temimah. The droplets that form on the lip of the boiling pot are pure water no matter what the water in the pot looks like. Similarly, the salt and minerals in water on earth are removed when the water evaporates and are returned to earth via the clouds in the sky. That’s why R’ Eliezer says the whole world draws water from the oceans. R’ Yehoshua is confused because the ocean waters are salty. To which R’ Eliezer replies that the waters are sweetened during the evaporation and cloud process just like the droplets on the lid of the pot boiling dirty water.

I read this and thought this was a pretty good explanation of R’ Eliezer’s position. Unfortunately it leaves R’ Yehoshua in a very vulnerable position. What are we to think happened after R’ Eliezer explained evaporation to R’ Yehoshua? Perhaps when presented with the scientific explanation he acquiesced to R’ Eliezer. The Talmud assumes he did not because the subsequent discussion deals with R’ Yehoshua’s position as equally viable to R’ Eliezer’s.

More importantly, could R’ Eliezer have known this scientific information? According to my brief Internet research, it seems that the basic principles of natural desalination were known to the Greeks. It’s possible that R’ Eliezer adopted something he heard from them. Although I am unsure if they understood that evaporated seawater turned into clouds in the manner the Torah Temimah understands it. Of course, it is possible that R’ Eliezer received this scientific information from God or some Divine Tradition. Personally, I do not subscribe to this view, but many others do.

Perhaps this is the correct explanation R’ Eliezer’s position. It is elegant in its explanation and pretty clever but it leaves us with other unanswered questions. Either way, kudos to the Torah Temimah for using his secular knowledge in his commentary on the Torah.

Read the Torah Temimah here: PDF

Visit Fink or Swim.

Jordan and Israel to Trade Water in New Venture

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdalla Ensour and his cabinet approved a new plan to trade water with Israel.  In a new Red Sea desalination project expected to cost $1 billion, Jordan will sell part of the resulting water to Israel in exchange for water from the Tiberias reservoir.

Middle East countries are known to face chronic water shortages.

“We will sell Israel water at a rate of JD1 per cubic metre and buy from them at a rate of JD0.3 per cubic metre. This process will save us the effort and cost of conveying water from the south to the northern governorates,” Ensour said, the Jordan Times reported.

According to Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser, the agreement is legal based on Article 2 of the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1994, and is of “strategic national interest” to Jordan.

Turtle Washed Ashore

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

My friend David Goldberger sent me this image of an sea turtle that was washed ashore Monday on the Netnaya beach, just south of the Carmel Hotel.

Is the water polluted? he wanted to know. Does this pose dangers we are unaware of?

According to Yaniv Levy, manager of the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center at Michmoret, a few miles north of Netanya on the Mediterranean coast, some 2,000 to 3,000 turtles used to nest along Israel’s shores at the turn of the 20th century. Now the numbers are down to about 180 loggerheads and fewer than 20 green turtles, and he estimates that only 10 green females in Israel are capable of egg laying.

According to Levy, the turtles face many dangers: pollution, plastic bags and other litter; outboard motors and fishing nets; jeeps hurtling along beaches. About 50 injured turtles are brought to the Rescue Center every year, most of them victims of human activity.

“We treat injured turtles and return them to the sea, gather and incubate eggs before returning the hatchlings to the beaches, raise public awareness of the issue and help preserve the coastline and establish coastal nature reserves,” Levy says.

(Source: A battle of survival for the Med’s sea turtles)

Israeli Scientists Offer Solution to Famine

Monday, August 19th, 2013

An Israeli team of scientists has developed a new technology which may minimize famine and strife by enabling crops to weather droughts worldwide.

Professor Shimon Gepstein, Chancellor of the Kinneret College, is leading a team to genetically engineer a plant that can withstand droughts by “freezing itself” after not receiving water for a certain period of time, and then “returning to life” after the water supply is renewed, without incurring any damage to the plant’s physical structure.

A spokesman for the Kinneret College told Tazpit News Agency that the findings already are being implemented and that international firms have expressed interest in the technology.

The finding was discovered by chance while running experiments on prolonging plants’ longevity and the shelf-life of vegetables. Experimenting on tobacco leaves, the scientists were able to develop a plant that lives twice as long as the average tobacco plant, providing flowers and fruits long after the regular plants have withered and died. When the tips of the leaves were cut off, the regular plants yellowed and died after a week, whereas the genetically engineered plants stayed green for a full 21 days.

The breakthrough was revealed when some of the plants were left in the green house unattended for four weeks. Tobacco plants require watering every two to three days.

When the team discovered that the unaltered plants had not lost their vitality, it decided on a series of monitored tests on regular and engineered plants that were not watered for three weeks. The regular plants died, and the engineered plants once again began to grow after receiving water, having incurred no damage during the “drought.”

The new technology, if successful commercially, would create a revolution as scientists forecast that climate changes will increase the number and severity of worldwide droughts.

In Israel and other arid areas, wheat planted at the beginning of the winter and the developing shoots after early rain will be able to survive a drought afterwards.

The new technology also could alleviate a growing global water shortage. The plants that survived the experiment used only one-third of the usual amount required.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-scientists-offer-solution-to-famine/2013/08/19/

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