Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Israel Seven-Year Plan, from "Data and Plans", submitted to the Jerusalem Conference

(October 1953)

In 1952, Israeli and foreign experts proposed the first national water plan, which called for the utilization of the Jordan waters, in a framework of an integrated plan for the use of all available water resources in the country. The plan was approved by the Government in late 1952 and submitted to the Jerusalem Conference on Israel's economic development in October 1953. Excerpts follow:

(1) The Necessity for Irrigation

The two most important basic raw materials in the State of Israel are soil and water. The combined utilization of these two raw materials yields the most vital basic product of the country, i.e., food. To date, we have arrived at a utilization of less than one third of the existing irrigation potential, and that in spite of the fact that about half of the country's food requirements are imported. Food is the only material without which no country can exist, whether in peace-time or during war; it is, on the other hand, one of the few basic products requiring only a relatively small expenditure in

foreign currency for its production. It is, therefore, imperative to give to the development of agriculture and irrigation a high priority among the economic activities of the State.

Most of the arable lands of Israel have a semi-arid climate with rains concentrated during three or four winter months, and practically no rainfall during the rest of the year. Rainfall decreases from the north to the south; and, while it is sufficient, in the northern half of the country, for one dry-farmed crop per year, it is inadequate for dry farming in the south. Irrigation in the north is an economic necessity since, by irrigation, the crop value can be increased five to ten times; it is a sine qua non for agriculture in the and south, the Negev, where farming without irrigation is not feasible.

(2) The Irrigation Potential of Israel

(a) Messrs. Cotton and Hays estimated the average yield of the water resources of Israel at about 2,500 million cubic metres per annum. (Fourth Interim Report, July 1952; this figure does not include the Yarmuk river.)

This total is made up as follows (in million cm per annum):








Rivers: Upper Jordan



Ground water including return flow from irrigation

Storm flow in wadis

Reclaimed sewage effluent from major towns

(excluding Yarmuk)












(b) The soil classification survey of Israel is nearing completion, but ultimate figures are not yet available. It will, however, suffice to state that the irrigable area is estimated to be about four million dunams, of which about two-thirds are located in the northern part of the country and one-third in the south, the Negev.

(c) While one-third of the country's irrigable lands is located in the Negev, the quantity of irrigation water available there is extremely small; hence the major objective of irrigation planning will be the conveyance of the surpluses of the north to the and south...

(4) The Jordan Diversion Stage I

(a) Features not dependent for their operation on the completion of the main conduit.

ii The Jordan-Sahl Battauf canal and power station

The Jordan-Battauf canal actually forms the first link of the main conduit from the Jordan to the Negev. The construction of the first section of this project (Jordan-Kinnereth) has just been started and it is anticipated that this section will be completed by 1957, including the hydro-electric station. The continuation of this canal from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinnereth) to the main storage reservoir of Sahl Battauf (Emek Netufa) is scheduled for completion by 1959, including the major pumping station required to raise the Jordan water from canal level to that of the Salil Battauf reservoir. Since both the power features of this project, as well as local irrigation ell route (especially Lower Galilee), can be implemented without being dependent on the completion of the main conduit, it is justified to include this project under the first group of projects forming part of the Jordan diversion Stage I.

The diversion structure on the Jordan will be constructed near the B'not Yaakov bridge; a canal will convey the water to the power plant above Lake Kinnereth, where a drop of 250 m. between the canal and tile lake is utilized for the generation of approximately 25,000 kW. The canal continues with reduced cross-section to the Salil Battauf reservoir. During the summer months, the relatively small flow of the Jordan will be utilized exclusively for power generation during peak hours of the electrical grid; the larger winter flow will partly be utilized for power generation around the clock, the remaining water being pumped for storage in the Sahl Battauf reservoir, whence it will be conveyed through the main conduit to the Negev. A small portion of the water stored in Salil Battauf will be conveyed to Lower Galilee to feed the regional irrigation project mains mentioned above.

iii The Kinnereth-Beisan canal

This canal is the first link of an extensive project for the irrigation of the lowlands around Lake Kinnereth, the Jordan Valley below the Lake, and the Beisan area. Since, with increasing utilization of the Jordan flow, the salt content of the water of Lake Kinnereth will rise and soon reach the level where water becomes unfit for irrigation, part of the water diverted at the B'not Yaakov bridge will have to be allotted to the irrigation of the low-lying lands. A conduit will be constructed branching off from the Jordan-Sahl Battauf conduit and running along the shore of Lake Kinnereth, though at a high elevation. After passing through the Yavneel reservoir and power stations the water will feed into the Kinnereth-Beisan canal.

At the stage considered here, only this latter canal will be built and will be fed, until the completion of the whole project, from Lake Kinnereth. The canal will bring supplementary supplies to the Jordan Valley and the Beisan Valley. The supplementary supply in the Beisan Valley will be distributed through the main canals of the existing regional project. A small hydro-electric power station will utilize the head between the canal and the Jordan for power generation.

(b) The Main Conduit Stage I, and Appurtenant Features

The principal objective of the main conduit is the provision of a supplementary supply for the irrigation of the Negev; secondary major objectives are the firming up of the rather undependable supplies derived from the numerous flood retention projects mentioned above, as well as supplementing, wherever required, deteriorating groundwater supplies and absorbing, where they occur, ground, spring and flood water surpluses for use elsewhere. These three objectives make it most desirable to have the additional supply of the main conduit available as early as possible after the completion of the four major projects, but not later than 1960.

Sahl Battauf reservoir, the main seasonal and carry-over storage reservoir of Israel, forms one of the most important features of the project. At the stage considered here, only the western part of the natural reservoir site will be utilized for storage in order to avoid, or at least postpone, the complications connected with the problematic nature of the rocks bordering the eastern part of the valley. A dike will be built across the valley to effect this division. As it is feared that leakage problems may also exist in limited portions of the western part of the valley, construction of the dam will be executed in stages and remedial measures taken against leakages where necessary.

The main conduit issues from the Sahl Battauf reservoir and runs, mostly in a southern direction, up to a main distribution point on the northern fringe of the Negev a total distance of about 140 kms. From this distribution point, the water is distributed throughout the Negev by 66" mains and 36"-20" laterals. For most of its length, the conduit will consist of reinforced pre-stressed concrete pipes 108" in diameter, to be manufactured in semi-permanent pipe plants. Tunnels will have to be used in certain sections, especially for crossing the hills bordering upon the Valley of Esdraelon in the west. The conduit will have a capacity of about 200 million cm per annum; actual average use, at this stage, will be about 150 million cm per annum. A number of additional seasonal and carry-over reservoirs in the central and southern part of Israel are contemplated, in addition to the Sahl Battauf reservoir, but their construction is scheduled for the period following 1960, and therefore not included in this report.

(c) Summary - Jordan Diversion

Summarizing the average yields available for irrigation of those features of the Jordan diversion which are scheduled for execution before 1960, the following figures are obtained (in million cm per annum, all figures rounded off):






Reservoirs (except Sahl Battauf)

Allotment to Upper and Lower Galilee from Jordan-Sahl Battauf canal

Kinnereth-Beisan canal

Main conduit from Sahl Battauf









Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs