How To Beat The Water Shortage

by Keith Macnaughtan

Man cannot live without water. Nor can any country expand and grow when its supplies of water are limited. But Israel has shown the world, and particularly countries like Australia where, over a great part of the land, water is in short supply, how much can be made with seemingly little of the precious liquid.

Originally, it would seem, there was no lack of water in the Promised Land. God had called it, "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 33:3 et al) , and this was endorsed by the spies whom Moses later sent into the land. Their words certainly indicated the fruitfulness of the land which, therefore, must have had an abundance of water.

And, indeed, of that plentifulness of water we specifically read: "For the Lord your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills ... a land where you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack anything in it ..." (Deuteronomy 8:7).

Fruitful Land, Unfaithful People

How rich and beautiful must have been that good land which God gave to His people Israel! But the centuries brought their changes. Israel failed to live faithfully and, as Moses prophesied, changes took place even in the land itself.

He had foretold: " ... your children ... and the foreigner that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they shall see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses wherewith the Lord has made it sick ... that it is not sown, nor bears, nor any grass grows therein ... even all the nations shall say: 'Wherefore has the Land done thus unto this land? What means the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say: 'Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord ... therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land ..." (Deuteronomy 29:22-27).

Who will deny the accuracy and reality of these predictions? The land itself became a desolation, barren and unfruitful, under Gentile domination. We may read Thompson's LAND AND THE BOOK (dated 1872) to learn of the ruins of ancient cities to be seen even in his day, in the land.

Or we may ponder the words of Volney, written about two hundred years ago. This one-time leader of world infidelity yet wrote: "Every day, as I proceeded on my journey, I found fields lying waste ... Why are these lands stript of their former blessings (numerous flocks, fertile fields and abundant harvest)? Why have they been banished, as it were, and transferred for so many ages, to other nations and different climes?

"Like most hot countries, it is destitute of that fresh and living verdure which most constantly adorns our own lands, and of the grassy and flowery carpet which covers the meadows of Normandy and Flanders ... Yet probably the country would have been shaded by forests ... a mysterious God exercises His incomprehensible judgements! He has doubtless pronounced a secret malediction against this land ..." And so on and so on.

If Volney had read the Bible he would have seen that it was no "secret malediction" which brought desolation to the land.

Returning People, Revived Land

Israel is back again in their own land; the land is now putting on the garment of fruitfulness and fertility. The people, by several ingenious methods, have learned "how to beat the water shortage".

It all began, it seems, when Levi Eshkol, Prime Minister of Israel, and others piped water from four wells to a collective farm forty kilometres away. Later Eshkol supervised the laying of 250 kilometres of piping to twelve new areas in the desert.

In the War of Independence, with two vital pumping stations outside of Jerusalem in the hands of the Arabs, Eshkol piped water from a well twenty-four kilometres away -- and just in time, for as the new conduit reached the city, the water in the cisterns was about to dry up!

After Independence, a 350 kilometre long system of pipes and canals was laid from the Sea of Galilee to the south of the country. The Syrians bombarded the scene, so Israel placed a pumping station inside a mountain! When the undertaking was finished in about six years, three 30,000 horsepower pumps drew water from the Sea of Galilee to a canal above the great inland sea. From there it flows into Lake Eshkol, from which, now chlorinated, it flows underground from one pumping station to another to as far south as Beersheva.

Water is then distributed by smaller pipes to areas 70 kilometres further south. Besides, the 100 cubic metres of surplus rain now trapped in the Lake of Galilee can now be diverted to wells dug along the sea coast and into other areas from which it seeps into underground rock formations, one along the coast, another further inland.

There is also Israel's drip irrigation system which brings water directly to the plant roots and thus saves 20 per cent of water needed for crops and increases the yield.

There is a contrivance in Na'an which controls 375 kilometres of pipes, which in turn distribute two and a half million cubic metres of water to orange groves, cotton, avocados and sugar beet.

And what of Professor Evanari's discoveries, in the Negev, of the remnants of farms which 2,000 years ago were home to 100,000 people? They had used rain-catchment areas, and Evanari repaired some of these, which had held run-off from hills, and he used them to irrigate the soil. Soon these fields were so productive again that Evanari said, "Run-off irrigation is a proven success."

A disused oil well was found, filled, not with oil, but with water. An Israeli named Arie Issar conjectured that the water came from a vast underground storage of water, which test-drilling showed may hold 200,000 million cubic metres of water suitable for irrigation.

When asked what would happen when the water ran out, the reply was that, underneath the sand-stone of the region, there is yet another supply of water, even larger than that at first discovered.

A Prepared Land, A Penitent People?

Is not the land of Israel now being prepared for the return of the exiled people? Why does Isaiah say: "In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water." ? Or David: "He turns a wilderness into a pool of water, and a dry ground into watersprings." ? (Isaiah 35:6,7; Psalm 107:35)

Do not these and other Scriptures foretell a day when the whole land will smile with renewed life and fruitfulness?

Oh, how soon could Messiah return and the Messianic age begin! It surely behoves every one of us to prepare against that day of His appearing by turning from our sins and seeking the provision He has made for reconciliation with the Lord God.