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Students tend to think of their schools as painfully "dry," but pupils at Gomeh Elementary School at Kibbutz Kfar Blum can expect a different experience this year. Yesterday the school inaugurated a system of collecting rainwater from classroom roofs.

Squill flowers blooming in the schoolyard are a sign that autumn is approaching, but in the late morning hours yesterday it remained hot. Against the background of the Jordan River, students broke into a rain dance, umbrellas in hand.

Educators say the program is an important step in environmental education, particularly on the importance of conserving water resources. The students' "water tank farm" can hold 6,000 liters of water that dripped from a 300-square meter roof. Next to the water tanks, a special sediment tank will be placed to collect the dirt found within the water.

During the winter, when precipitation is highest, it will be possible to fill the tanks dozens of times; the water collected may be used in the school's bathrooms.

The students will monitor the water gauge installed on the tanks, and report to the principal the amount of water they are saving. The school will also be saving energy by eliminating the process of water treatment.

Amir Yehieli, who planned the rainwater collection system, said, "The cost of energy invested in every cubic meter of water used in Jerusalem is 1.20 shekels, but what's more important in this project are the indirect savings."

"The students' whole perception of the issue of water changes," Yehieli said, adding that Gomeh is the 50th school to institute such a program so far. "A country seeking to make the most of its water resources must use them wisely. In Israel, a fifth of the water used finds its way to either the sewer or the Mediterranean Sea."

"The proper use of such water could lead to savings in the need for treating seawater, or at least the lion's share of it," Yehieli said.

'This generation will be more aware'

Yehieli added that collecting rainwater from school roofs could reduce water usage by one-third annually. Similar savings could be achieved in private homes.

Engaging in water conservation, he said, makes students more alert to the dangers of overuse, and thus making them less likely to waste it.

Jewish National Fund guides that are recent high-school graduates will supervise the program. Lavi Zamir, one of the JNF supervisors, said, "The important thing about this initiative is that the students are full participants.

They will monitor the water collection, gather measurements and aid in the system's maintenance."

Yaniv, the principal, said, "This generation of children will be more aware than we were. They will know better, it already flows in their veins."

Zamir added, "Creating such a system in every school and public institution is necessary, and I ask myself why it wasn't thought of earlier. The situation demands that we act. We must not wait for the government to lead this initiative, because the truth is the state is hardly doing anything."