Pioneering Project: 2001-2002
In 2001, as a Jerusalem based environmental organization, Shomera launched 2 water conservation initiatives, including a pioneering attempt to recycle the greywater of the baths of ritual bathhouses (“mikveh”) and reuse the treated water for irrigation of public parks. The innovative project received public attention as well as the interest and support of the Ministry of the Environment. Following an extended dialogue with the Ministry of Health to qualify for operation, the project was shut down due to Shomera’s concern that given preliminary understandings, the project would be economically unfeasible.
The “Greywater Recycling Initiative” pilot: 2007- 2014
Several years later, a bond was formed with Professor Emeritus Uri Shamir of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, an internationally renowned water expert and a leader in the field of Water Sensitive Cities planning in Israel. With Professor Shamir’s assistance, the initiative to recycle greywater was reinstated, this time with the lessons learned by Shomera that to succeed, the project must be conducted in the most professional manner, together with leading entities with an influence on the future of greywater. A strategic alliance was formed between Shomera and Professor Eran Friedler of the Technion, recognized nationally and internationally for his research on greywater recycling. The concept was crystallized.
Shomera would initiate a new pilot, only this time, rather than turn to the Ministry of Health for approval when the planning was completed, the Ministry would be invited to partake in the planning process itself, thereby augmenting the chance of the project’s ultimate success. A collaboration was formed with the Water Conservation Division of the Water Authority, and Water Arc (Ilan Katz, CEO), one of the first greywater recycling businesses in Israel. The Ministry of Health was invited to accompany the process and chose to do so. This step by the Ministry of Health was considered to be no less than revolutionary. In late 2008, a “round table” of academia, government, business and NGO embarked on what became a 2 year planning process. Although the plan was to return to the site of a mikveh – this time the mandate was to treat shower water rather than the ritual baths themselves, in order to set a precedent relevant to a broad spectrum of facilities.
As Shomera transitioned from the planning phase towards implementation, there was a turnover of the entities actively collaborating on the initiative. New alliances were formed at local, regional, national and even international levels including the City of Raanana, the KKL-JNF, JNF Canada, the Environmental Quality Unit (Sharon Region), the Religious Council of Ra’anana ,Yigal Arnon & Co.,several water technology companies including Bermad, Blue-I, Miltel Communications and Rotoniv and others (see “Partners /supporters” for the complete list). The technology was constructed and run by Watercycle, Inc. As noted above, the Ministry of Health (at both national and regional levels) was actively involved at all stages of the pilot.