Water is a precious and scarce resource in Israel, even more so in the summer months. A country affected by severe drought conditions, Israel faces a water shortage crisis when strain is put on the municipal water authority to provide water to the public.
The Sea of Galilee, which provides roughly 35% of the country’s freshwater, is diminishing as an adequate source of water. Some have proposed desalination of briny sea water from the Mediterranean as a solution to this issue, but this is an expensive option.
Rainwater harvesting, while less well known, has proven to be another effective solution to the water deficit the country faces. During the rainy season (October to early May), the rain is harvested and substituted for water that would be normally taken from the city. This allows the city to reserve more water for the summer months. While not a complete solution to the shortage, rainwater harvesting alleviates the burden put on the municipal water authority by providing another source for gray water processes (i.e. irrigation and flushing). More importantly, rainwater harvesting has the potential to bridge divides between people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds when implemented in a mixed community.
In early 2012, the Rotary Club of Lod, Israel and Rotary District 2490 of Israel identified an opportunity to create a model project in Lod, a mixed community of Jews, Arabs, and Christians to address the water crisis. With support from the Coral Springs-Parkland Rotary Club in Florida, the Rainwater Harvest School Model Project in Lod was conceived. This project employs the use of simple, yet very effective, rainwater harvesting systems to capture rainwater that would otherwise be lost to the sea as runoff. While not potable, as it is considered gray water, it can be used to irrigate school gardens and flush toilets.
Elementary students at the pilot school site of Ha Maapilim participated in the installation of the rainwater harvesting system, which is comprised of a catchment surface, a series of settling tanks, and a water pump. Science teachers at the schools then use this rainwater harvesting system as an instrument for educating the students about water conservation principles and ecology.