Bahai News - Baha'i gardens seek exemption from watering ban
Baha'i gardens seek exemption from watering ban
By David Rudge
HAIFA (July 25) - One of the most prominent victims of the proposed total
ban on irrigating lawns and grassed areas for the months of August and
September would undoubtedly be the beautifully verdant terraced gardens of
the Baha'i World Center in Haifa.
The gardens - dubbed the eighth wonder of the world - were opened to
the public at the beginning of last month and have already attracted
some 285,000 visitors, most of them Israelis.
More importantly, they are part of a unique complex holy to six million
Baha'is throughout the world - tens of thousands of whom make pilgrimages
to the site even when foreign tourism to Israel is at an all-time low.
Baha'i leaders are hoping that the gardens, which have been fitted with
some of the most sophisticated irrigation technology to avoid wasting
water, would be exempted from the proposed ban.
Nevertheless, Douglas Samimi-Moore, the spokesman for the Ba'ah'i
World Center, noted that it has always cooperated fully with the Israeli
authorities and said it would continue to do so.
The $250 million terraced gardens and administrative buildings
complex took 10 years to complete and has literally changed the
north-facing slope of Mount Carmel, from the renovated Germany Colony in
Haifa's downtown district to Rehov Yafeh Nof on the peak.
The gardens, rising up the mountain for a full kilometer, include 19
terraces with marble balustrades, sculptures, grassed areas, flower
beds, trees, and an outer circle of indigenous flora, as well as pools,
fountains and water channels with recycling systems.
Though some 180,000 cubic meters of water have been allocated on a
yearly basis for irrigating the gardens, around 130,000 are actually being
used - and some of that is so-called "gray water" which has been recycled.
Samimi-Moore noted that all drip-irrigation and sprinkler systems are
computerized and have wind as well as soil sensors to ensure there is no
watering when it is likely to blow away and evaporate, and that plants
and lawns receive the specific quantities of water required and no more.
"The soil sensor, for example, automatically checks the level of dampness
to ensure that all the trees, plants, flowers, bushes, and the lawns get
precisely the amount of water needed and are not over-watered," he said.
"The terraces are also laid out in such a way that the inner circles
are grassed and spread outwards to formal flower beds and then to
indigenous trees and bushes, which require less water, and afterwards to
the wild growth on the Carmel, which is not watered at all." He noted
that in some areas, around the Shrine of the Bab, in the heart of the
Haifa complex, and at the Shrine of Baha'ullah, the founder of the
faith, in Acre, lawns have been turned over and allowed to lie fallow.
"We are acutely aware of the water crisis, which is partly why such
sophisticated measures have been taken to use water in the most
efficient way possible - even less than the amount allocated," said
Samimi-Moore. "We would like to think of the gardens not as a place
where water is being wasted, but as a model of efficient use of water.
"In these circumstances, we would hope that the Baha'i gardens would
be exempt from the irrigation ban, while recognizing their unique
character and their special significance in a place which is holy to
Baha'is throughout the world," he added.
©Copyright 2001, The Jerusalem Post
Page last updated/revised 072601
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