TOURS AND VISITS – 4TH WEEK

It has been a very busy week with multiple tours and site visits, after which I get home (home can be Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or other locations) exhausted from traveling and the summer heat of arid areas. However, the more field work I conduct, the more I learn and gain from this internship. I love being outside in 35 to 40 celsius, but never too happy in the AC cooled office, luckily things are going in the first direction for me.

The first field visit this week was not directly related to my project, yet I am pleased I joined it. We drove early morning from Ketura to a rural-agricultural community, who relies on dates exportation. Water-Energy was the main issue identified from the long meeting with the community leaders, and the AIES team. Although it is at the very first steps, it looks like an exciting project that will look at options of improving energy and water supply for agriculture.

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Greet and meet at the site, with community leaders, date experts, AIES staff and students from the American University in D.C.
Definitely the best dates I have had was this community's.
Definitely the best dates I have had was this community’s.
At the date field.
At the date field.

The next tours were strictly related to my project in the Bedouin village of Umm Batin. Overall, the success of my work depends on the number of houses I will have time to document. And this depends on the relations I am developing with some of the residents – a task that is not always easy since ethnic and cultural differences are sometimes obstacles to social cooperation in Israel. However, this week has been constructive and hopefully, my work in the village appealed to some of the Bedouins I met.

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These photos might explain better the type of community I am working at. Left photo, is a sewage stream originated in Hebron and flows all the way to Gaza. Umm Batin is somewhere in the middle and at the very entrance you cross over this smelly site. The state has not done anything since the village was recognize 10 years ago, and residents in some parts complain about mosquitos and odors. The right photo shows how most of the streets look like. All unpaved, in some places you can smell raw sewage. Quite a sad thing for me to be exposed to in Israel, as an Israeli.

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On the left is one of the houses I saw this week. Raw greywater is piped directly to the backyard where some olive trees grow. The garden was a little muddy, quite smelly and in general unpleasant. In addition, I was told by the resident the toilet is located outside the house, or in other words, a field toilet.

The right photo shows the other end of sewage conditions in the village. This house, has a well designed cesspit where all the blackwater goes. Another cesspit was built for greywater, from where water is pumped out for irrigation. Overall, this house has no sanitary issues and it manages its wastewater quite successfully. The cesspit, covered by an upper cement layer, has a hole in the center which helps release the excrments gases.

SECOND AND THIRD WEEK

Happily, my resoponsibilities in the Grey Water Project of the AIES are becoming quickly clearer. It seems like I’ll be spending a lot of time in the city of Beersheva, and the Bedouin village of Umm-Batin. In both places, I have started meeting organizations and community leaders who are interested in improving the sanitary situation in the village. I find myself, after all, working as liaison between the Bedouin community and the AIES, and as part of these efforts I am meeting a lot of new people who are willing to help.

My real first jump into the water was last week, with visit to an NGO called AJEEC, which promotes Arab/Jewish cooperation in community projects. Although I felt I was not fluent enough, the meeting turned out to be quite long, very dynamic and informative. Most of all, the AJEEC staff helped me by bridging me and key figures of Umm Batin. Hopefully, I will have the chance to meet a group of women in the village, where I can gain some more insight about domestic usage of greywater, and sanitary infrastructure.

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The AJEEC office in Beersheva

The following day I had my first visit to Umm Batin, this time to assess a family’s property where AIES might install a greywater treatment system. While on the village’s only asphalted road, I was busy observing and digesting info of a poor, non-developed, dirty area, and completely forgot to use my camera. Once we found our destination, we focused on the wastewater infrastructure. Luckily, the landlord is quite a handyman and after installing a dual plumbing a few months ago, this can make our job of installing a system feasible and easier. I really hope to see this happening!

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A new pipe discharging untreated greywater from the kitchen
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All set to install a system

Greywater Treatment in Rural Communities

Hello All,

I have traveled to Israel for almost a three month internship, mostly in the southern part of the country. I will be working with the Arava Institute for Environmental Solutions, which works with alternative energy, water solutions, eco-tourism and more.

Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute, in the middle of the desert
Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute, in the middle of the desert

Since my biggest interest and concentration is water, I was offered to take part in a Decentralized Greywater Treatment project, in which I will take part in the installation and assessment of a constructed wetland system. Briefly, it is filtration system that mimics natural processes, and I would better explain how it works in the next posts!

END OF FIRST WEEK

My first week has been very dynamic fortunately, and it seems the whole internship is going to be like that. The Arava Institute is based almost on the southrenmost end of Israel, yet its projects take place in multiple locations, which means lot of traveling for me. So I have had the chance to visit the Bedouin town called Rahat, where a greywater treatment system was installed, and is almost ready for operation.

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As you can see, the system is comprised of 6 tanks, placed on a built slope to facilitate water from one to the other. The system is designed to treat approximately 1 cubic meter of greywater daily. During my visit to Rahat I also attended an educational event that was organized by the town’s water utility, which is trying to establish a close relationship with the community to raise awareness about proper use of sanitary infrastructure. Luckily, we had a cloudy day that made the walk across town all the way to the treatment facility enjoyable, with approximately 600 students enjoying a rare out of the classroom day.

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