JERUSALEM (May. 7)
Hadassah will fund construction of dams in the Negev and Arava deserts to contain the regions’ meager rainfall for agricultural use, it was announced by the organization. It will provide about $2.5 million of the $3 million cost of the new dams.
The projects are being undertaken in partnership with the Jewish National Fund at Sde Boker, south of Beersheba in the Negev, and at Nahal Hayun near Paran, a moshav in the Arava half way between the Dead Sea and Eilat.
The Arava dam is under construction at the narrowest point of Nahal Hayun where JNF is currently filling the valley between two hills with approximately 112,000 cubic yards of earth to create a retaining wall 200 feet wide, 394 feet long and 56 feet high.
At the Negev site near Sde Boker, JNF equipment is moving 170,000 cubic yards of sand to create a dam with a capacity of more than 112,500 gallons of water. Both dams will replenish the underground aquifers in the desert regions to increase the year-round supply of water for irrigation of crops and, in the Negev, grazing lands for cattle.
The water supply for the Arava region is especially critical to Israel’s economy. The 19 settlements in the 110-mile-long valley receive only about two inches of rainfall annually, but cultivate enough crops to become known as Israel’s “winter produce basket.”
Hadassah is the largest single organizational supporter of the Jewish National Fund and their partnership in land reclamation and development spans 50 years of major projects.