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Thinking about Jerusalem water use and lack thereof on Earth Day

by ben April 22 2008
HolidaysEnvironment

jerusalem-water-mandate.jpg

Israel hasn't been on Al Gore's radar much since his days as vice president, which has the disadvantage of exempting our nation from the global trend towards environmental awareness and education. With their eyes constantly fixed on the enlightened Diaspora, however, Israelis and even Jerusalemites have begun some "green" movements, one of which even succeeded through activism in canceling the city's most ambitious plan to date to expand its residential footprint.

Water conservation, however, remains a frighteningly low-profile issue here. The city has a long and storied history of limited water supply, which has spawned a series of innovative tunnels and other transport methods since the Jews first settled here over 3000 years ago. But many members of today's generation of older Jerusalemites remember less ancient times when water was rationed from trucks and showers were weekly events. Today's age of plenty is, of course, a double-edged sword, and over the past decade or so, Jerusalem (like the rest of the country) has only been able to keep up with ever-increasing water consumption demand by shipping the stuff in from Turkey.

So maybe today we should try and soap up all of the dishes and our armpits before we rinse them, and maybe the experience will be painless enough that we might start conserving similarly from now on. Or maybe Al Gore will have to come to town with a PowerPoint presentation. Happy Earth Day to all from Jerusalemite.

Photo of Mandate-era Jerusalemites filling their water jugs for home use from the Library of Congress archives.

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