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3rd International Rainwater Cistern Systems Conference
Khon Kaen, Thailand - January, 1987

Section A: History

Paper A.2

Rain Water Cisterns in Israel's Negev Desert Past and Present Development

Lewis Weiner
Consulting Engineer
Tahal Consulting Engineers


The paper deals with water harvesting and management over the ages in a country (Israel) of which sixty percent of its area has less than 250 mm of rainfall a year.

Archeological research and the Bible give ample evidence that during the" Stone Age 5000 BC and the Bronze Age (2000 BC), this desert was relatively well populated.

During and after the rains (which may fall on less' than 10 days a year) there is occasionally runoff. The inhabitants learned to control, increase and store these floods and become "run-off" farmers or water harvesters.

Storage was in underground cisterns excavated in soft impermeable chalk formations with volumes of up to 300 cubic meters - enough for 10 families and their flock for a whole year.

Groundwater aquifers form the "modern cistern" in the desert areas. These are being refilled by construction of retention dams and the release and controlled infiltration of the stored flood water into the underground aquifer.

PDF of full document (17pp, 480kb)

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