Wednesday, December 19, 2012
New source of water for Be'er Sheva
Building new housing in Israel tends to be a sensitive issue, but for the Mayor of Be'er Sheva, the decision not to build 16,000 new apartments had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the environment. What will be there instead of homes? Trees!
Actually, this is just part of Mayor Rubik Danilovich's bigger plan to revitalize the city. Its population of around 200,000 depends greatly on local Ben Gurion University, for now. In addition to creating an urban forest, akin to Forest Park in Portland, Oregon, the Mayor's ambitious 10 year plan also calls for building a lake with state of the art water technology, a 'green' shopping mall that will collect rainwater and generate electricity with solar panels (other than solar water heaters, solar power is sorely lacking in such a sun-drenched country) and a revitalization of the riverfront.
The city's name means '7 Wells', but the water for all of these projects won't come from the ground, rather from a newly built water treatment facility, which will reclaim all of the city's waste water. While it is not yet able to purify the water to be consumed, it's good enough to be used in the planned waterfalls, fountains, and lakes. (Before you get too grossed out at the idea of sitting next to a fountain using reclaimed water - it's what the Bellagio uses for their famous fountain).
Green infrastructure, which includes specifically building forests into the city, just like any other structure, is becoming part of the common parlance when used to describe how to grow cities. It not only helps to reduce problems like storm water runoff (allowing it to be absorbed into the ground instead of overwhelming the city's waste water facility), green spaces also have proven to promote physical and emotional health - all of which ultimately benefits the city's economy.
It is exciting to see how Be'er Sheva will grow in the next few years, and after the Mayor's term is up in 2015 how his plan is continued.