WATER DIPLOMACY TOURS
Tour A: Water Scarcity, Water Security and Water Technologies
Stop 1: The Ashkelon Desalination Plant*
The Ashkelon Desalination Plant is the largest in Israel, producing over 100 MCM annually, which is 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 Ashkelon is available only on Tuesdays and prior coordination is required.
*An alternative option is the Ashdod Desalination Plant.
Stop 2: Igudan Wastewater Treatment Center (Shafdan)
The Shafdan Plant collects, treats and reclaims wastewater in Israel's coastal urban areas and industrial zones. It prevents the raw sewage from being discharged into the Mediterranean, and instead purifies the sewer water and pumps it to the Negev desert to irrigate winter crops. The interactive tour of the plant includes talks, educational films and hands-on activities. Visitors tour the various stations of the plant, including pretreatment, settling basins, the Archimedes screw, anaerobic digesters, and more. They get to witness the exciting process of reclaiming raw wastewater for agricultural irrigation.
There is a fee for this stop on the tour.
Stop 3: Ashkelon National Park
Humans first began to settle in Ashkelon 10,000 years ago. Ashkelon is home to ancient structures that date back even as far as 1850 BCE. This park contains archeological remains from many different civilizations, including Canaanites, Philistines, Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and Crusaders. Here, we will view ancient irrigation technology and discuss water scarcity, water technology and water security in Israel and in Gaza.The park also includes an overlook to the Gaza Strip.
There is a fee for this stop on the tour.
Stop 4: Zikim Beach and the Shikim Reservoir
Here, we learn about transboundary pollution- its causes and effects. Sewage is dumped into the Mediterrean Sea from all over Gaza for two reasons: there are not enough Wastewater Treatment Plants in the Gaza Strip and there is not enough consistent electricity supplied to run the Wastewater Treatment Plants that do exist. Moreover, rivers and streams have also become sewage dumping sites. 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.
Tour B: Human Impact on the Environment
Stop 1: Qasr 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 solutions “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 conflicting positions and interests/priorities- among 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
Here on a short hiking path we will encounter both the beauty of Nahal Bokek and the reality of industrial pollution, as well as learning about the process of restoring the stream.
Tour C: Negotiations over Water
Stop 1. Syrian Fort, overlook vantage point
At this abandoned Syrian Fort along the southern slopes of the Golan Heights, we will learn about political geography, borders and water security. 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 developmental 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 Water 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 Abdullah Canal in Jordan. Here we will present the story of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan 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 coming from the city of TulKarem. The plant was supposed to run for only 5 years and at a capacity of 5000 CM a day. Here we witness both cross-border pollution issues in plain site and meet the Israeli manager of the WWTP to hear the stories about the ups 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 wastewater 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 Shomron mountains to the east and the city of TulKarem 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 have been 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, from the beginning of the day where we saw how the river looked near the border with Tulkarem and how it looks near the Mediterrenean Sea in Israel. We will hear stories about the history of the river and its importance in the 19th century –for example, as a conduit for the export of watermelons to locations throughout the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Tour E: Cross-border Pollution and Environmental Sustainability in the Hebron Stream Basin
Stop 1: Meitar Border
The tour begins at the border of Meitar and the West Bank. Here, we will see the sewage that travels from the Hebron Stream across the border to Meitar, and we will witness that water has no borders. We can see the ecological damage and pollution that sewage from the West Bank brings to Israel, and that the untreated sewage of Hebron is not only a problem for the West Bank, but for Israel as well. The only way to solve this problem is with a regional approach. Point out that after 20 years of planning and handling the complexity of differing positions and interests, the WWTP for Hebron is being built.
Additionally, we will also hear about issues faced due to the stone-cutting industry, which pollutes the river with stone-cutting slurry that clogs the system and can damage the treatment plant. To address this problem, Israel has built a catchment and treatment facility near the border that separates the slurry from sewage. This is a very expensive process, and takes significant funds from Palestinian taxes. However, air pollution from the slurry is still a problem and this affects Meitar.
Stop 2: Shoket Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Shoket Wastewater Treatment Plant is a modern sewage plant that treats the sewage of surrounding Israeli towns, as well as some Palestinian towns in the Hebron area. We will tour the plant and explore various treatment processes.
Stop 3: Wadi Attir
Here is a shining example of innovative entrepreneurship of the Bedouin community in the Negev, Wadi Attir combines the values, knowledge, and traditions of the Bedouin population in an incredible initiative of sustainable development. The project incorporates renewable energy production, traditional agriculture arid land conservation, recycling, and more to demonstrate the sustainable potential of the region. Entrance fees.
Stop 4: Tel Sheva Junction
The Tel Sheva Junction serves as a Viewing Point of the intersection of the Hebron River and Be’er Sheva River. The towns of Omer and the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, understood the value of utilizing this intersection, however notice the differences( compare-contrast and consider).
Stop 5: Be’er Sheva River Park
The Be’er Sheva River Park is an example of how a city can address drastic construction waste and pollution in a river. The city of Be’er Sheva restored the Be’er Sheva river by building an artificial lake, currently the biggest in Israel at 90 dunams, filled with wastewater-treated water. The lake uses three systems of ecological wetlands to filter the water and keep it fresh and clean. The park as a whole is 670 dunams in size and contains grasslands, trees, picnic sites, walking and biking trails, and other leisure activities for the community to enjoy. Note: creative problem solving and utilizing wastewater for restoration and the environment.