JNF Discusses Worst Drought in Israel's History
Jewish National Fund campaign leaders from across the nation including Rita H. Salfeld, President of New York recently met on Capitol Hill with members of Congress to discuss the strategic importance of the new JNF campaign during the worst drought in Israel's history. During the conference, the leadership also recognized the contribution of the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC), a partner with JNF, which works to find solutions for world arid lands problems.
At a special luncheon with JNF and IALC leaders, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Daniel R. Glickman, expressed his concerns over Israel's severe drought and its regional impact. "Just as we in the U.S. plan for varying climatic changes and natural disasters, Israel must do the same. This past summer on the East Coast we suffered both a severe drought, followed by severe floods, all within three months. JNF's work in Israel to build reservoirs, flood dams and special agriculture terraces helps meet these challenges, and at the same time allows Israel to protect economic infrastructure and natural resources for herself and her neighbors."
In discussing the severity of the drought, Ronald S. Lauder, President of JNF, explained that the lack of rainfall this year has driven water levels at Lake Kinneret, Israel's #1 water source, below the redline for the first time in history. Emergency measures have been adopted to reduce pumping by 70 percent.
"The agenda for Campaign 2000 has been set by events beyond our control," Lauder said. "But there is a clear message that each of us must take back to our communities, that is, a sense of urgency about the most serious drought in Israel's history.
"Yet, there is reason for hope, because there is much that can be done," he explained.
Among the projects, Lauder referred to were the following:
Capture and recycle 200 million cubic meters of waste water which can be used for agriculture;
Halt underground pollution of Lake Kinneret's surrounding watersheds which are threatening water supplies;
Build new reservoirs and dams to capture winter rains;
Harness the saline (brackish) waters that flow under the Negev.
JNF's mission is to continue the task of reclaiming, conserving and developing the land of Israel, a task begun nearly a century ago.
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