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Huleh Drainage – Israel’s Largest Development Project – is Completed

Engineers touched a button today to blast the final barrier between the southern tip of Lake Huleh near the Syrian border and a newly-built canal leading the lake’s water to the Jordan River, thus completing Israel’s largest single development project.

Spectators quietly watched the water drain from the 3,500-acre lake, uncovering new areas to be converted into fertile land from swamps.

The project involved building of straight canals to replace the winding Jordan River bed which has been too narrow to carry all the water. The building of the network of irrigation canals was the subject of constant Syrian efforts at interference because a section of the canal is located in the Syrian- Israel demilitarized zone.

Children at Hulata, a fisherman’s settlement, were among the fascinated observers as the edge of the water receded, signifying a major change in the life of the settlement–a switch from a fisherman’s to a farming economy.

SWAMP LANDS CONVERTED INTO FERTILE FIELDS

The entire lower lake area was expected to be drained within 48 hours, turning 60,000 dunams of swamp into land containing more than 40 percent of organic matter of great fertility.

Work on the Huleh project was first started in 1951 by the Jewish National Fund. It involved deepening of the Jordan River bed south of Lake Huleh for accumulation of the waters to be drained later. The second stage, under direction of the Construction Aggregates Corporation of Chicago, brought heavy equipment to the job of dredging eastern, western and northern canals with a connecting network of smaller canals.

Eventually, the irrigation experts said, a total of 15,000 acres of new cultivable land will be created and the project also will provide 65,000,000 cubic meters of water for irrigation purposes, part of which will be used outside of the Huleh region. The final eradication of sources of malarial infections also will be achieved.

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