WATER DIPLOMACY TOURS
Tour A: Water Scarcity, Water Security and Water Technologies
*There may be changes in the stops. The final schedule and specific stops will be determined in coordination with the school.
Stop 1: The Ashqelon Desalination Plant or the Ashdod Desalination Plant
The Ashkelon desalination plant is the largest in Israel, producing over 100 MCM annually 15% of Israel’s drinking water. We will consider what happens when the sea is polluted and discuss water security for Israel and the region.
The desalination plant tour in Ashqelon is available only on Tuesdays and prior coordination is required.
*An alternative or an additional option is the Shafdan Water Treatment Center.
Stop 2: Zikim Beach and the Shikmim Reservoir
Wadi Hanun-Nahal Hanun flows from the northern Gaza Strip and connects to Nahal Shikma, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea at Zikim Beach near the Erez Checkpoint (one of the entrances from Israel to the Gaza Strip). The sewage flows from Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip into the Hanoun Stream. Israel has invested 40 million shekels to lay a pipe to absorb the sewage and lead it to the sewage treatment facility in Sderot, so that the sewage from Nahal Hanoun will not contaminate the reservoir of Shikmim. The Shikmim Reservoir absorbs rainwater and infuses it into the coastal aquifer.
Stop 3. Nir Am Gaza overlook above the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip is currently facing a dire humanitarian crisis with potentially devastating implications for the local population and neighboring communities in Egypt and Israel. Around 97 % of the water extracted from the Coastal Aquifer – the main source of water in the Strip – has been declared unfit for human consumption due to high salinity levels and contamination by nitrates caused by release of untreated sewage. The inability to treat wastewater has led to over 108,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage flowing daily into the Mediterranean Sea through 9 sewage outlets distributed along the coastline of Gaza, a quantity equivalent to 43 Olympic-size swimming pools. This results in widespread pollution of both the sea and the groundwater, which in turn leads to serious risks to the health of the residents of Gaza as well as to the health of Israeli residents living along the southern coast.
Stop 4. Nahabir – the old Be'eri and the Negev water system
In October 1946, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, Its goal was to create a new political reality and include the Negev in the future state. Eleven communities were established overnight, and Be'eri was one of them. Since there were no water sources in the Negev, together with the establishment of the settlements, two water pipelines were laid. The water was brought from wells in the Nir Am area. The pipes, 200 km long, were purchased in London they had been used in the Second World War to transport water to extinguish the fires caused by the German air force attacks. In the 1950s, with the increase in settlement in the Negev and the need for more water, a water line was installed that brought water from the Yarkon springs (in the Tel Aviv area). In the 1960s, with the need for larger quantities of water, the water pipeline to the Negev was connected to the National Water Carrier, which brought water from the Sea of Galilee. Since the 1990s there has been extensive use of effluents for agricultural use from the sewage treatment plant of the Dan Region. The wastewater is recharged into the sands of Rishon LeZion for filtering, pumped and transferred to agriculture use in the Negev.
Stop 5. Nahal Besor – A walk between rope bridge and the pipe bridge
The Besor Stream is the largest river in Israel that spills into the Mediterranean Sea. Its drainage basin stretches over 3,600 square kilometers from Ramat Avdat near Sde Boker in the South and the tributaries of Nahal Hevron in the North. It flows into the Mediterranean Sea in the Gaza Strip. Two large reservoirs were built near the stream to store floodwater.
Tour B: Human Impact on the Environment
Stop 1. Kasar el Yahud- Baptism site and the story of the Jordan River
This site shows how important the Jordan River is to Christianity, to Judaism and to Islam. We will address the effects of water diversion and water pollution.
Stop 2. Kibbutz Ein Gedi and Sinkhole Lookout Point
The phenomena of sinkholes are directly related to the decline of the Dead Sea. We will learn how this phenomenon is created and debate whether we should stop it or let it naturally develop.
Stop 3. The Dead Sea Potash Factory Visit or Observation Point
On the way to Arad, we will stop at a viewing point that demonstrates the story of the depletion of the sea. Israeli and Jordanian industries exploit the evaporation of water to harvest the sea’s minerals and are responsible for 40% of the yearly decline of the Dead Sea. We will consider the different conflicts- between industry/tourism/employment/ and the environment, who is responsible for the ecological disaster and how can we improve the situation. Here we also learn about the Safi community in Jordan and their water reality.
Stop 4. Hike to Nahal Bokek
About industrial pollution and the process of restoring the stream.
Tour C: Negotiations Over Water
Stop 1. Syrian Fort, overlook vantage point
At this panoramic lookout point, we will learn about: water disputes between Israel and Syria, the Johnston Plan (the simulation done in class), the dispute over the water rights of the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret), the importance of the Yarmouk River in relations between Israel and Jordan including the peace treaty in 1994, and water realities in the community of Hama, Jordan- just across the way.
Stop 2. Degania Dam
The dam was built in the 1930s in order to divert water to the electric power plant in Naharayim and then after 1948 to divert the Jordan River for domestic purposes. Water diversion is the main reason for the poor quality of the Jordan River and the depletion of the Dead Sea.
Stop 3. Walk along the Lower Jordan from Yardenit to the Alumot Dam
This short walk takes us from the clear, good water of the lower Jordan River to the Alumot Dam. This part of the river was constructed for tourism (the Yardenit Baptism Site and Rob Roy Kayaks). At the Alumot Dam, the water quality changes-the river receives all the effluents from the Bitanyia Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and from the salty carrier. We will present EcoPeace’s plan to rehabilitate the Jordan River and what can be done to improve the situation.
Stop 4. The Dan Simchi Pumping Station
This pumping station brings the water from the Sea of Galilee to the King Abdulla Canal in Jordan. Here we will present the story of the peace treaty and how water diplomacy works.
Stop 5. Peace Island – Naharayim
The story of the Peace Island and the electric power plant. How diplomacy worked and the current state of diplomacy there.
Tour D: Pollution and Restoration
Stop 1. Yad Hana Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP)
The Yad Hana WWTP was built in 2004 as an emergency WWTP to treat the domestic sewage of the city of Tul Karem. The plant was supposed to run for only 5 years and at a capacity of 5000 CM a day. Here one witnesses both cross-border pollution issues in plain site and meets the Israeli manager of the WWTP to hear the stories about the up and downs of cross-border relations. Today after 14 years, the plant still runs but is not capable of treating the 14000 CM a day mix of waste water and industrial waste.
Stop 2. “Kakoon“ Fort
From the Fort which used to be a crusader stronghold and a strategic point, one can view the mountains to the east and the city of Tul Karem and its surroundings. Underneath this area is the mountain aquifer, which is Israel’s main underground water resource and the West Bank Palestinians’ only water source. Here we will talk about water diplomacy with the Palestinian Authority.
Stop 3. Agmon Hefer
This relatively new site is one of Emek Hefer’s nicest attractions, The Old Hogla fish ponds were converted into a beautiful pond taking the water from extra effluent from local reservoirs and some ground water. This place is heaven for bird lovers- a few bird watching facilities were constructed along the pond trails.
Stop 4. Turtle Bridge
The health of the river ecosystem here is centered on the soft shell turtle- through its story we will see how pollution influences nature.
Stop 5. Alexander River Outlet
Where the river meets the sea is a place one can examine and see the differences between east and west, how the river looks like on the Palestinian side and how it looks near the sea in Israel. We will hear stories about the history of the river and its importance in the 19th century –for the export of watermelons to locations throughout the eastern Mediterranean Sea.