Earlier this month, four rain barrels, which will collect the water from the school’s roof and save it, were installed at the middle school. Students will use the captured rain water to care for campus gardens, and students at the Farm Lab also will use it to flush toilets.
"The water conservation efforts the students in San Diego and Encinitas will spearhead is wonderful, but what really will be inspirational will be watching how the rain barrel program changes how these kids think about and use water,” said Susan Lapidus, executive director of USIC.
“It’s very exciting to be able to bring this technology developed in Israel to San Diego. It is my fervent hope that this is just the beginning of technology transfers between San Diego and Israel,” Lapidus said.
PBMS eighth grader Arty Rodriguez painted beautiful waves on the side of the one barrel. He has designed patterns for all four barrels. The work is part of his community project. Rodriguez was inspired by a Japanese artist Hakusai. On another barrel he designed a Hawaiian-Californian design with tribal arts.
“It took me a week to design the paintings. My theme for this project is recycling water, so I have to add something that resembles recycling,” he said. Rodriguez also added a Hebrew message to the barrels, which reads “Water is life.”
The rain harvesting system was developed in Israel by former teacher Amir Yechieli, who installed Israel’s first water catchment systems at elementary schools 16 years ago.
Today, Yechieli’s business, Rain Harvest, serves more than 140 schools in Israel, including 40 in Jerusalem. Until now, no school in California used Israeli‐designed rain barrels to conserve water.
“I am thrilled to see three of your schools embrace the rain barrel program and what San Diego’s future may hold based on this forward-thinking decision,” Yechieli said.
“The rain barrel program helps young people understand that and it inspires them to become conservation leaders, which has the potential to help change how water is viewed and used in San Diego,” Yechieli said.
USIC’s Lapidus met Yechieli at a water conference in Israel last year. Israel faced a drought similar to the one California is experiencing but today the country is 100 percent water resilient. Israel recycles 85 percent of its water, more than any other nation in the world. California recycles roughly 3 percent of its water.
Lapidus would like students to learn that they are charge of their own environment and they have the power to change their behavior.
“The rain barrel project is wonderful because it’s reaching school children to show them, how water is so important,” Lapidus said. “It’s clean enough to even drink, but our policy is not there yet.”
Gov. Jerry Brown and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between California and Israel. The MOU sets goals for mutual collaboration on water policy and water technology.