The establishment of water infrastructure is one of the Israel’s major milestones. Mekorot was founded prior to the establishment of the State, to locate and supply water to the Jewish population in the land of Israel. Since that time, Mekorot has established many water facilities and has made the Zionist vision of Jewish settlement in Israel and the development of agriculture in the country a reality, as is written in the Bible: “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” (Isaiah, Chapter 41 Verse 18). The following water project projects represent only a part of Mekorot’s many accomplishments related to construction and development, which have led prosperity of the Land of Israel.
1935 – Drilling for water in the Zevulun Valley
As part of a plan for the central irrigation project of the Western Zevulun Valley, boreholes were sunk at Kfar Hasidim, adjacent to the Zevulun Valley, at the initiative of Levy Skolnik (Eshkol – later the Prime Minster of Israel), with the assistance of Engineer Simcha Blass.
1937 – The Establishment of the Mekorot Water Company
The “Incorporation Memorandum of a Limited Liability Company” (i.e. Ltd.) was published on January 31, 1937. Pursuant to the memorandum, the function of the water company that was being formed, was defined as follows: “To execute and carry out everything required, or appropriate, to obtain, store, sell, deliver, distribute and produce water.” The memorandum was signed by the representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, the Nir Company of the Histadrut Labor Union and the Agricultural Center – as well as agricultural settlements in the Western Jezreel Valley.
On February 15, 1937, the company, named Mekorot (Sources) was duly registered at the offices of the Mandate Government. The initial capital investment in the company was about 85,000 Land of Israel Lira and the company employed 6 staff members.
1938 – Inauguration of the Kishon Project Project
The Kishon Project is considered Mekorot’s first water project. After obtaining the authorization of the Mandate Government, Mekorot conducted a great many drillings, within a very short period of time, on the Hirbaj Ridge adjacent to Kfar Hasidim and in the Zevulun Valley, in the area between Kibbutz Usha and Kibbutz Yagur. Large quantities of good quality water was found in the majority of the boreholes, suitable for both drinking and irrigation. Concurrently, Mekorot constructed a number of pump houses next to the wells, as well as a central pumping station adjacent to Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim and laid a 17 km. long pipeline, which carried water to the Western Jezreel Valley settlements. The project’s discharge rate was estimated at 4 million cu. m. per annum. In light of the growth in population and the lack of food, at that time, the project enabled the expansion of the Valley’s irrigated fields.
In addition to boreholes on the outskirts of the Valley and laying pipelines that carried water from the Western Galilee, a storage lake was planned in the Kishon River basin in order to stockpile storm water runoff – known as the Kfar Baruch Lake. Over the years, the Kfar Baruch Lake became the main operational lake for irrigating the fields in the Valley.
1939 – Supplying Water to the City of Haifa
Mekorot’s development included the laying of a water pipeline to Kibbutz Ramat David and to Kibbutz Gvat, supplying water to Ramat Yishai, connecting Usha and Kfar Hamaccabi to the backbone pipeline and completing the laying of the pipeline from Kfar Hasidim to Hadar Hacarmel. In 1939, Mekorot was already supplying water to 70% of the residents of Haifa.
1939 – The Fantasy Plan
Dr. Arthur Ruppin, the Head of the Jewish Agency Settlement Department., later dubbed “the Father of the Jewish Settlement [in the Land of Israel]”, asked Simcha Blass to prepare a “Fantasy Plan” to irrigate the Negev. A few months later, Blass submitted the plan to Ruppin, which consisted of three stages: Transporting nearby borehole water, carrying the water of the Yarkon River to the Negev and bringing water from the north of the country to the Negev. The plan began to take shape prior to the establishment of the State, and was fully realized upon the inauguration of the National Water Carrier, when water flowed from the Sea of Galilee to the Negev!
1943 – Water Discovered in Boreholes Drilled in the Vicinity of Nir Am – Gvar’am
The quality of water discovered in the boreholes in the vicinity of Nir Am enabled the establishment of the first water project in the Negev. The project included a pumping station and a 1,000 cu m. reservoir and played an important role in the struggle to outlinethe borders of the Western Negev. From here, water pipelines lead to 11 settlements that were established on the night after Yom Kippur in 1946.
1943 – The Plan to Develop the Water Sources in the Land of Israel
Based upon the memo written by Simcha Blass on the subject of “Settling the Land of Israel Deserts by Drawing Water from the Rivers”, Blass sought approval from Mekorot in 1941 to draw up a detailed plan for a national water project. In April 1943, he presented the plan to the officials at Mekorot, Levy Eshkol and Pinchas Sapir, and to a member of the Jewish Agency’s management board and its Treasurer, Eliezer Kaplan. A month later Blass completed his book: “The Water Resources in the Land of Israel – Prospects for Irrigation and Hydroelectric Development”, which contained a detailed plan for the development of all the water sources in the Land of Israel.
May 1944 - “The Water Resources in the Land of Israel – Prospects for Irrigation and Hydroelectric Development”
Completion of the first master plan for Israel’s water industry was beneficial to the country, the Negev and the absorption of survivors of the Second World War. This plan layed the foundation for a national water system after the establishment of the State of Israel, and focused on carrying surplus water from the north to land in southern Israel and the Negev.
1944 – Supplying Water to the Beit She’an Valley
The Beit She’an Valley settlements that were initially supplied with water from local sources, signed an agreement with Mekorot for the company to supply their water. Upon signing the agreement, Mekorot began the extensive development of water sources in the area and transferring large quantities of water to agricultural settlements in the Valley.
1947 – Laying the First Pipeline to the Negev to Transport Borehole Water to the Northern Negev
The water pipeline from the Nir Am area to Revivim and Glulot, totaling 200 km. in length, supplied water to the Negev settlements, including the “Tower and Stockade” settlements, three outlook posts and the 11 settlements that had just been established. The pipeline was dubbed “The Champagne Pipeline” due to the high cost of the thick metal walled pipe. The 6" diameter pipeline was imported from England and was initially used to put out fires during the Second World War.
1948 – The Branch Line to Jerusalem
“The First Jerusalem Pipeline” was laid in 1936 by the British Mandate Government and carried some 4 million cu. m. per annum of water from Rosh Ha’ayin to Jerusalem though an 18" pipeline. The pipeline suffered recurrent disruptions due to sabotage on the part of the Arabs. The pipeline was in operation at the beginning of the War of Independence; however, in the spring of 1948, with the Arabs overrunning the source pumping station at Rosh Ha’ayin, and the booster pumping station at Latrun, and after a section of the pipeline in the Latrun area was dismantled, water ceased to flow to the city.
Levy Eshkol, the first Director of Mekorot and the Deputy Minister of Defense at the time, assigned the company an important “national mission”: to lay a water pipeline to the besieged capital. In a daring and very resourceful operation, during the course of the War of Independence, Mekorot succeeded in laying the pipeline, constructing pumping stations and reservoirs and laying a 10 – 12 diameter pipeline along the Burma Road route, called the “Siloam Pipeline”.
The line is named after the ancient water project that saved Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah at the time of the First Temple. Mekorot pumped water from wells in the vicinity of Rehovot and carried it to Hulda, and from there along the “Siloam Line” to Sha’ar Hagai and to Jerusalem, whose siege had just been lifted. At the end of the war, the city of Jerusalem was declared the capital of the State of Israel. The Siloam Line, which was a temporary solution, was no longer able to supply the needs of the developing city and was dismantled after the “Second Jerusalem Pipeline” was laid.
1948 – Establishment of the Subsidiary - HME.
Mekorot Water–Development Work Company Ltd., later called “HME”, commenced activities as Mekorot’s earthwork and pipe laying company. In 1949, the first mechanical equipment arrived in Israel. In 1956, with the development of the water project, Mekorot Water became a company and two years later the Mekorot Drilling Department. Was incorporated as part of that company. Its range of activities include: excavations, laying pipelines, construction and refurbishment of reservoirs, drilling boreholes, and establishing injection sites for effluent, etc. As part of the company reorganization implemented at Mekorot in 2005, the company merged with EMS and the Company’s regional construction units, to become one central operations division.
1949 – The Water Project Development Wave
The 1940s were characterized by the expansion of Mekorot activities and the development of many water project s throughout Israel. At the beginning of the second decade of its activities, and a year after the establishment of the State of Israel, Mekorot had already supplied 30 million cu. m. of water that irrigated some 12,500 acres of agricultural land through: the Kishon Project , which supplied water to the Zevulun Valley, Haifa and the western Jezreel Valley; the Central Jezreel Valley Project , which supplied water to the areas of Ginegar, Tel Adashim, Afula, Mechavi and Dovrat; the Shomron Project , that supplied water to the towns of Pardes Chana, Karkur and Binyamina; the Beit She’an Project , which supplied water to the farms in the Beit She’an Valley; the Holon Project , which supplied water to Holon and Bat Yam; the Southern Project , which supplied water to Kibbutz Na’an, Hulda and Givat Brenner area (and later to Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Corridor settlements); and the First Negev Water Project , which supplied water to Be’eri, T’kuma, Urim, Tze’elim, Gvulot and Nirim, by means of a 6" diameter water pipeline grid.
1950 – Establishment of the Subsidiary - EMS
EMS began its life as the Mekorot’s mechanical department. Its objective was to execute repairs and assembly work at Mekorot boreholes and pumping stations. In mid-1958, Mekorot’s management decided to reorganize the structure of the department and turn it into a company. In 1961, the company was duly registered and began operations. Over the years, EMS expanded its scope of activities and began operating in additional fields, such as: maintenance and repair of water, fuel and sewage pumps, manufacture of electrical equipment, development of water technologies, establishment of an automatic control system for operating Mekorot water facilities, rainfall enhancement activities, executing work for external institutions, etc. As part of the company reorganization instituted at Mekorot as of 2005, the Company merged with HME and the company’s regional construction units, to form a single operating division.
1953 – The Second Jerusalem Pipeline
In light of the increased demand for water in the rapidly developing capital city, Mekorot laid the Second Jerusalem Pipeline. The 24" diameter pipeline, which originated in the Rehovot-Na’an area and passed though mountainous, terrain: from Hulda through Kfar Uriya and Eshta’ol, and from there along the new road being paved from Ramat Raziel to Ein Karem. The Fifth Jerusalem Pipeline, which is slated to be completed by 2020, is scheduled to pass the Hulda pumping station. The Second Jerusalem Pipeline supplies about 10 million cu. m. of water per annum.
1954 – Establishment of the T’kuma Reservoir
The 200,000 cu. m. capacity reservoir was constructed as part of the establishment of the eastern Yarkon-Negev Project , which was inaugurated one year later. The 100,000 cu. m. capacity T’kuma reservoir was established in 1989 as part of the Third Negev Pipeline, which was constructed in that same year. As a result of the increase in consumption of the purified Gush Dan Sewage Water Plant output, the designation of both reservoirs were switched in 1994: the larger first reservoir was converted to stockpile the purified Gush Dan Sewage Water Plant output, while the second smaller reservoir was converted to stockpile potable water.
1955 – Inauguration of the Eastern Yarkon - Negev Project
This project is considered the largest of the water projects executed by Mekorot in the 1950s. This is the first Mekorot project that conveyed water from one region of the country to another region: from the Yarkon wells at Rosh Ha’ayin to Kibbutz Magan in the north western Negev Desert. The project included a 108 km. long water pipeline, 95 km. of which is of 66" diameter pipe and 13 km. of 48" diameter pipe, 3 underground pumping stations, 9 marine diesel engines of 2,080 hp. each, electric motors, diesel and heavy fuel oil tanks, regulation reservoirs of a total capacity of 350,000 cu. m. and many other related facilities. The cost of the project was estimated at IL 45 million. Mekorot, the national water company, contributed to building the country and flowering the desert: The Yarkon - Negev project continues to irrigate the Negev and southern Israel landscape to this day and provides these areas with potable and irrigation water by means of the national water system.
1958 – Establishment of the WRD – Water Resources Development Subsidiary. (Vered, in Hebrew)
The Vered subsidiary, its legal name being WRD – Water Resources Development (Foreign Countries) Ltd., was established by Mekorot in partnership with the Government of Israel, with the objective of developing water projects in third world countries. The company was very active on the African continent, in Latin America and in Asia, leveraging the Mekorot engineering and technological know-how. In 1972, Vered was acquired by Solel Boneh (Foreign Countries) Ltd.
1958 – Connecting the Tel Aviv Water Supply System
Upon the inauguration of the eastern Yarkon - Negev pipeline in 1955, the next stage of the project was put into action: laying the western pipeline. The first section of the western pipeline originated from Rosh Ha’ayin, continued parallel to the railway line that passed through the area, turned 90 degrees in the direction of Bar Ilan University and winding south along the Geha Highway route (which itself was in advanced stages of planning at that time), up to the sand flats of Rishon Lezion. The Tel Aviv supply pipeline was connected to the Western Yarkon - Negev project pipeline opposite Bar Ilan University. At that time, the Tel Aviv Municipality operated local boreholes and laid a 48" pipeline from Bar Ilan to the 25,000 cu. m. Arlozorov Reservoir. The Western pipeline increased the supply of water to Tel Aviv and improved the water’s quality. The Tel Aviv water supply system was upgraded in the 1960s with the connection of the northern suburbs to the Western Yarkon - Negev pipeline. The water flowed by gravity to the Zahala reservoirs through a 4.5 km. long 40" diameter pipeline. In light of the population growth in Tel Aviv and in southern Israel, an additional water pipeline was planned at that time: the 11 km. long 70" diameter Dan Pipeline. The pipeline, which was completed in the mid-1960’s, bolstered the water supply to Tel Aviv and increased the quantity of water flowing south.
1958 – The Shikma River Project
A project to collect storm water runoff from the Shikma River, the tributaries of which originate in the Southern Hebron Mountain. The storm water runoff is pooled by an embankment surrounding a reservoir and dam with an overflow ramp for the water to flow along the river and empty into the sea in the vicinity of the Zikim sand flats. After the silt settles, the storm water runoff is pumped to the sand flats to the north of the reservoir, in order to enrich the ground water table of the coastal aquifer.
1959 – Legislation of the Water Law
Israel’s Water Law was legislated in 1959. The need for a law resulted from the recognition of the fact that water is a means of production and, being a scarce resource, its distribution must be arranged in the most efficient and fair manner to meet the needs of the consumers and for the country’s development. The Water Law states at the outset that “the water sources of the State of Israel are public property, are under state control and are designated for use by the citizens and for the development of the Land of Israel. and “every individual is entitled to receive and use water subject to the provisions of this law”. Pursuant to the provisions of the Water Law, Mekorot serves as a water supplier. Two years later, in 1961, the Knesset recognized Mekorot as the National Water Authority, pursuant to the Water Law. By the power of this role, Mekorot is responsible for the national water system , the National Water Carrier and itsadministration, its supply of water , its enhancement, its maintenance and any other action required for the system to supply water.
1961 – Establishment of the Rainfall Enhancement Division
Already in 1949, a year after the Establishment of the State of Israel, Mekorot began experiments aimed at enhancing additional rainfall over the Sea of Galilee drainage area. 12 years later, Mekorot established the Rainfall Enhancement Division as a part of the EMS Company. The rainfall enhancement activities are carried out each year from November to April when the meteorological conditions facilitate such activities (cloud cover, wind direction and suitable cloud temperature). Priority is given to seeding clouds above the Sea of Galilee catchment area and seeding above the mountain aquifer is a secondary priority. The seeding activities are carried out by means of aircraft and ground based furnaces. When the rain RADAR observers, located at Ben Gurion Airport, detect precipitation on its way to the target area, they dispatch aircraft with special burners and ignite ground based furnaces to seed the clouds with silver iodide. These particles form effective frozen nuclei that expedite the precipitation formation process. Based upon statistical research, seeding has enhanced rainfall by an average of 13% over the years. Hydrological calculations indicate that this adds some 60 million cu. m. to the water system each year, at a cost of 10 agurot per cu. m. This cost is equivalent to only 5% of the cost of water desalination. Mekorot’s unique activities in the field of rainfall enhancement have been recognized internationally by the scientific community. Many countries from around the world consult with the Division to obtain advice and the Company has carried out a project in Italy similar to the project conducted in Israel.
1961 – Completion of the Western Yarkon - Negev Pipeline
Upon the completion of the Western Yarkon - Negev pipeline, the Yarkon - Negev Project was concluded. The pipeline starts at the Yarkon wells and runs south along the Geha Highway route (which was in the early stages of planning at that time) up to the Zohar Lake. Based on the lessons learned from laying the Eastern pipeline, a decision was made to upgrade the Western pipeline, and it was constructed using a larger diameter pipe (70") and stronger concrete. The length of the Western Pipeline is 67 km.
1964 – Completion of the Construction of the Largest Development Project in Israel – the National Water Carrier
The plans to establish the Yarden Project – later known as the National Water Carrier – was approved by the Government in 1956. Construction commenced in 1959 and continued for 5 years. The cost of the project was IL 420 million (about $140 million in those days). Some 2.5 million man days were invested in construction, more than 4,000 workers were employed, 7 million cu. m. of earth was excavated, 1.7 million cu. m., of rock was quarried, over 500 million cu. m. of concrete was poured, encasing 75,000 tons of steel, and 15,000 steel and concrete pipes were laid. The length of the National Water Carrier is about 130 km. Upon the operation of the Carrier, about 80% of the water was allocated for agriculture and 20% for potable water. At the beginning of the 1990s, the National Water Carrier had already supplied about half of the potable water in Israel, from the northern reaches of the country down to the outskirts of the Negev Desert. A record quantity of 527 million cu. m. of water was pumped from the Sea of Galilee into the National Water Carrier in 2004.
1964 / 5 – Construction of the Brackish Carrier
The project traps brackish water that drains into the Sea of Galilee with the objective of reducing the level of chlorides (salt) in the water streamed to the National Water Carrier and also to preserve the ecology of the Sea of Galilee. The length of the brackish water diversion project is about 22 km., running in parallel to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee from the Nur (Tavcha) wells and beyond the southern estuary of the Sea of Galilee into the Jordan River. The initial purpose of the project was to trap only brackish water, but this was changed and it currently also traps the effluent from the settlements along its route, in order to prevent the pollution of the Sea of Galilee. Initially, effluent from Tiberias, Ginnosar and recreation sites along the western shore was streamed into the channel. Over the years, large donors, such as Tzfat and Migdal were added. In light of the intention to increase the flow of brackish water flowing along the channel, Mekorot dedicated a comprehensive 3-stage plan to upgrade the project : Separation of the channel into a brackish water channel and a sewage and effluent channel, replacing sections of the project from an open channel to a pipeline, in order to permit desalination in the future. Over the years of its operation, the project has prevented some two million tons of chlorides from flowing into the Sea of Galilee.
1965 – The Combined Desalination Plant in Eilat.
The establishment of a sea water desalination plant in conjunction with the power station in Eilat that employs the multistage purification technique.
1967 / 8 – Establishment of the Menashe Rivers Project
Mekorot established the Menashe Rivers Project in the Ramat Menashe area with the objective of trapping storm water runoff flowing in the streams descending from Ramat Menashe: Dalia, Taninim (and it tributary – the Snunit River), Ada (and it tributary – the Barkan River). The project collects the water through a common diversion channel. On its way west, the waters of the Mishmarot River are also collected. The water flows by gravity from the diversion channel to an underground reservoir in the Caesarea sand flats. After the water seeps into the ground water table, Mekorot pumps the water regularly based on the needs of the area and according to the national consumption policy.
1969 – Initial Drillings on the Golan Heights
After the Six Day War, Mekorot geared up to supply water to the new Jewish settlement on the Golan Heights. In the initial stage, Mekorot established, in a very short period of time, a project that “pushed” water from the Sea of Galilee to the Golan Heights through a pumping station at Korsi Junction. In the second stage, Mekorot conducted local borehole drilling throughout the Golan Heights, in order to locate additional sources of water for the purpose of supplying water to the settlements and agriculture in the area.
1969 – Establishment of the Gush Dan Sewage Treatment Plant (Shafdan in Hebrew)
The Shafdan Project was established to treat sewage originating from the cities of Gush Dan. The plant is owned by the Dan Cities Association for Sewage and Environmental Quality, a union of 7 major municipalities with other settlements connected to the project . Mekorot is responsible for operating the sewage treatment plant and for introducing the resulting recycled water into the ground water table through seepage fields for purposes of natural filtering and enhancement of water quality. Mekorot retrieves the recycled water by means of boreholes and streams the water to the Negev at a quality suitable for agricultural irrigation with no restrictions (tertiary treatment). At the beginning stages of the project , the recycled wastewater was treated in oxidization pools. Upon the expansion of the project and the addition of other cities, a more advanced method of treatment was adopted, requiring far less ground area, known as Activated Sludge Treatment. The Sewage Treatment Plant is the largest and most advanced plant of its kind in the Middle East and treats some 130 million cu. m. of sewage per annum.
1970 – Inauguration of the Menashe Pumping Station
The Menashe Station is the first pumping station operated along the National Water Carrier route, with the objective of increasing the flow capacity and carrying water to the southern part of the country. In 1970, the construction of the Rishon Lezion and Zohar Junction pumping stations was completed. The Mivtachim and Tal Or pumping stations then began operations, one after the other.
1970 – Fish-Based Biological Treatment of Water
In the 1970s, with the objective of improving the quality of the water flowing through the National Water Carrier, Mekorot developed a technique for the “Biological Treatment” of pests such as algae, snails and miniscule life forms found in the water. Such creatures proliferate in reservoirs, pollute and discolor the water and add undesirable aftertastes and odors. The treatment is carried out by fish that perform the duties of “sanitation workers”, based upon the principles of ecological theory. According to this theory, the pests in the water are part of the food chain that develops in the water and constitute food for various types of fish, such as the silverfish and the bighead carp. The sanitation fish eat the algae and the life forms without polluting the water, and thus contribute to the improvement in the quality of the water flowing in the National Water Carrier. Fish and other aquatic species found in reservoirs and/or in sophistical water control facilities operated by Mekorot are also used for the continuous tracking of the sanitary quality of the water supplied for domestic use. Mekorot was a global pioneer in developing and implementing the fish-based biological treatment technique.
1978 – The Brackish Water Desalination Plant in Eilat
The establishment of the first brackish, reverse osmosis, borehole desalination plant in Israel. The facility takes water from Sabach 1 boreholes, north of Eilat, and replaced the seawater desalination plant built in 1965.
1979 – The Third Jerusalem Pipeline
In light of the expansion of Jerusalem and the need to increase the quantity of water flowing to the capital city, Mekorot laid the Third Jerusalem Pipeline. The pipeline emanates from underneath Kisalon in the Judean Hills and was laid in parallel to the Second Jerusalem Pipeline. The length of the pipeline is 20 km. and the diameter is 36". The Third Jerusalem Pipeline supplies about 14 million cu. m. of water per annum.
1984 – Inauguration of the Kishon Complex Project
The project , established under the joint ownership of Mekorot and the Jezreel Valley farmers, was aimed at saving some 20 million cu. m. per annum from the National Water Carrier by the alternate use of purified recycled water (wastewater) to be supplied for irrigation. The objective of the project was to base the local supply of water on water sources in the area and to improve the output capacity at peak times. “The Kishon Complex” is currently the second largest water recycling operation in Israel. It recycles the wastewater of the Haifa sewage treatment plant and of the Afula sewage treatment plant for purposes of unlimited irrigation in the Jezreel Valley. The project also stores storm water runoff in the Kfar Baruch reservoir. The annual consumption is estimated to be 28 million cu. m.
1986 – Operation of Hydroelectric Turbines Manufacturing Clean Energy Electricity
Mekorot began operating hydroelectric turbines at the Kfar Baruch pumping station. The turbines exploit the surplus pressure of the water in the National Water Carrier, generating 2.5 million KwH of clean energy. In 1986, a turbine exploiting surplus water pressure in injecting water into the ground at a lower output capacity was inaugurated by Mekorot at the Ma’anit 4 borehole. In 2006, the turbine was transferred from the Kfar Baruch pumping station to the Kfar Yehoshua pumping station. The turbine currently generates some 4 million KwH. The benefit of this generation of electricity reduces the cost of supplying water via the project and also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tons per annum, thus reducing air pollution. Operating the turbine reflects Mekorot’s commitment to environmental quality and to protecting nature and landscape.
1988 – Reorganization at Mekorot
As part of the reorganization at Mekorot, the water supply and operation units were merged into three geographical regions: North, Center and South, with changes to the borders between North and Center. Each region included 2–3 water supply units and a construction and maintenance unit. The Jordan District was the only one remaining as a functional unit without any geographical ascription.
1989 – Inauguration of the Third Negev Pipeline Project
The designation of this project is to carry the effluent from the Gush Dan Sewage Treatment Plant (Shafdan) as recycled wastewater to the Negev for irrigating all kinds of agricultural crops, allaying customer concerns regarding sanitation issues. The project was inaugurated in a reduced format in 1977. In November 1989, it was operated in full capacity as an integrated system of pipelines (the main 70" diameter, 90 km. long pipeline), booster pumping stations and reservoirs. Some of the reservoirs are designated for stockpiling surplus recycled water during the winter months, in order to increase the quantities of water supplied for irrigation during the summer months. During the first year of operation, the system transportedsome 80 million cu. m. of recycled water to the Negev. 17 years after its initial operation, in 2005, the Third Negev Pipeline system carried some 130 million cu. m. of recycled water to customers through an extensive monitoring and control system. Recycling the effluent allows diverting other potable water for municipal use. This project enables Mekorot to provide a solution for Israel’s increasing demand for water.
1994 – The Fourth Jerusalem Pipeline
In order to connect to the national water system, an additional pipeline system to Jerusalem was laid as backup to the existing system – the Fourth Jerusalem Pipeline. The length of the pipeline is 38 km and it bolstered and improved the reliability of the water supply to the capital city. Four pumping stations were constructed along the length of the pipeline (
1995 – Supplying Water to the Kingdom of Jordan
As part of the peace agreement signed between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan in October 1994, a special protocol, dealing with the water-oriented relations between the two countries, was adopted. Pursuant to the agreement, the State of Israel is to supply an annual quantity of 30 million cu. m of water to the Kingdom of Jordan, from the Degania Dam, of which 20 million cu. m. is “Jordanian Water”: Jordan streams this water to Israel from the Yarmouch River in the winter for storage in the Sea of Galilee, and Israel returns this quantity to Jordan during the summer months. Israel agreed to add an additional 25 million cu. m. per annum to this quota in 1997 so that the total annual amount of water pumped by Mekorot to the Kingdom of Jordan is 55 million cu. m.
1997 – A Breakthrough in Reserve Osmosis Desalination of Seawater in Eilat
Mekorot inaugurated the Sabcha 3 reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in 1997. The project gained international recognition because of the unique technique employed, by which the plant desalinates a mixture of seawater and concentrate emitted by the seawater desalination plant, thus ensuring a low cost desalination process compared to similar sized desalination plants around the world. The Sabcha 3 plant supplied 8,000 cu m. of desalinated water per day during the first year of operation. The capacity of the facility was increased to 10,000 cu. m. of desalinated water per day in 1998.
The reverse osmosis desalination technique was first implemented in the US at the beginning of the 1970s. Mekorot identified the potential inherent in the process, and developed and adapted the process to the environmental conditions characteristic of the region and the special needs of the Red Sea, the Southern Arava and Eilat. The first desalination plant of this type was put into operation in 1978, desalinating brackish water from the Sabcha 1 borehole. In response to the increase in demand for water, an additional plant operating under this technique, Sabcha 2, was erected in 1992.
The production capacity of both Sabcha plants is 36,000 cu. m. per day. In light of the fact that the output of the borehole water is limited, the need arose to desalinate water from a different source, which will supply the needs of what is considered the vacation capital of Israel. The resources were invested in desalinating Red Sea seawater. By means of the three desalination plants, Mekorot supplies the full demand of good quality water in Eilat, with maximum reliability and high availability.
2004 – Reduction of the Boron Content in the Sabcha 3 Seawater
In order to improve the quality of the desalinated water and to reduce the Boron content in the water, Mekorot upgraded the desalination process at the Sabcha 3 facility in Eilat in 2004. The upgraded process includes adding means to remove Boron through a sophisticated combination system. Mekorot registered a patent for this crucial development for removing Boron in 2006.
2004 – Establishment of the WaTech Technological Initiative Center
The Technological Initiative Center was established in order to develop the Company’s operational effectiveness through the use of the newest and most advanced water technologies. Mekorot, through WaTech, offers a beta testing site, support, technological analysis and a business platform for various institutions in Israel and around the world.
2005 – Implementation of the Reorganization at Mekorot
Mekorot carried out a process of streamlining and reorganization announced a year earlier. As part of the process, the company gradually split into a group of companies. The Group is headed by Mekorot Holdings, fully owned by the Government. The holding company is the parent company of Mekorot Water (involved in supplying water), Mekorot Enterprises (which deals with activities in competitive sectors in the water industry), and EMS Mekorot Projects Ltd, which consolidates all the operating units.
2006 – Signing International Cooperation Agreements
As part of its international activities, Mekorot signed cooperation agreements with the huge Siemens Corporation, with water companies in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia and with others. These agreements focus, inter alia, on joint research, development and marketing of water technologies in the fields of water quality, desalination, sewage treatment, recycling effluent and water safety. Cooperation with various international institutions enables Mekorot to leverage its exceptional knowledge, experience and capabilities.
2006 – Accreditation of Mekorot Laboratories by the National Authority
Mekorot Laboratories was accredited as a recognized laboratory by the National Laboratory Accreditation Authority pursuant to recognized and accepted international standards. The recognition was awarded by the Ministry of Health after examining the laboratory and the work procedures. The laboratory accreditation process is aimed at validating the high quality of performance applied by Mekorot to water and sewage testing at its 6 laboratories. Each year, some 30,000 tests are carried out and some 190,000 parameters of water quality are examined.
2007 – Inauguration of the National Filtration Facility
The Mekorot National Filtration Facility at the Eshkol site is one of the largest and most complex of its kind in the world. The facility is aimed at complying with the stringent Ministry of Health requirements and continuously improving the quality of the potable water supplied to the residents of the State of Israel.
Upon the roll out of the facility, the State of Israel moved to the forefront of western countries vis-à-vis the treatment of potable water quality. The filtration capacity of the facility is about 450 million cu. m. per annum.
2008 – Turning the Operations Division into the Subsidiary Company – EMS Mekorot Projects Ltd.
As part of the 2005 reorganization, all the Mekorot Operations units were merged into a single multidisciplinary structure (the Operations Division). This framework operated as a foundation body in the format of a “closed economy” for three years. After the Operations Division proved its capabilities, it became the EMS Mekorot Projects Ltd. subsidiary company.