Creating Water Sensitive Cities in Israel

“Creating Water Sensitive Cities in Israel” is a four-year multidisciplinary research program that was designed to help create a high-quality, sustainable urban environment through innovative urban water management.

The program was formulated with the guidance of Monash University in Australia, a world leader in the field, together with three leading research universities in Israel: Hebrew University, the Technion, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  The ultimate goal of the research program is to promote the development of sustainable cities in Israel, while creating highly liveable urban spaces, taking into account the specific needs of the Israeli urban water sector.


A number of sub-objectives are derived from the main goal.  First, to pave the way for the fulfillment of the vision of Water Sensitive Cities by assessing water sensitive technologies while considering socio-economic factors.  Second, to develop innovative multipurpose technologies that will harvest urban stormwater runoff in the winter, and treat polluted groundwater in the summer, for the purpose of rehabilitating the aquifers. These technologies will also improve the quality of life for the local residents.  Third, to establish pilot projects in order to demonstrate the principles of water sensitive cities. These will create awareness and lay the groundwork for future community participation, from both the private and public sectors. Fourth, to collect information that can be used as a basis for developing national urban water management policy.

Description of the Program

The project consists of four integrated master projects, comprised of a number of sub-projects.  The research program incorporates scientific research conducted in a variety of disciplines, and integrates the research efforts and findings, over a period of four years.  The integration of the main research activities combines two stages: (1) developing and refining the research perspective by formulating core questions after conducting a review of both Israeli and world scientific literature; (2) conducting the research in various universities, integrating the insights gained by the research, and planning and implementing demonstration projects to test the results of the research on the ground in Israel.

Master Project 1, The Urban Water Cycle, quantifies existing and future water sources within the urban environment: groundwater, greywater (from dishwashing, laundry, showers), blackwater (wastewater from toilets), and primarily urban stormwater runoff

Sub-Project 1.1, Development of the vision of water sensitive cities in Israel, “zooms out” by examining water sensitive city solutions throughout the world, and creates a vision appropriate to the Israeli context.

Sub-Project 1.2, Characterization of urban stormwater in Israel, addresses urban stormwater runoff as a potential water resource, and specifically focuses on evaluating the quality and quantity of the runoff from various land uses (residential, road, light industry).


Master Project 2, Water Sensitive Urban Planning and Design, identifies challenges and barriers to implementing water sensitive urban planning, and focuses on finding integrated solutions that respond to the culture, needs, climate (including climate change) and other requirements specific to Israeli cities.

Sub-Project 2.1, Exploring integrated design solutions for water sensitive urban planning, attempts to understand how and where water sensitive strategies can be incorporated into the urban fabric with the goal of using runoff to recharge the aquifer, and to assess how these strategies will contribute to improved quality of life, specifically how the urban microclimate will be affected.


Master Project 3, Water Sensitive Technologies, deals with the development of innovative multi-functional water sensitive technologies

Sub-Project 3.1, Developing hybrid biofilters to treat both urban stormwater and nitrate-contaminated groundwater, develops and tests hybrid biofilters that operate in the rainy season (winter) to harvest and purify urban stormwater runoff and then recharge the purified stormwater to the aquifer, and operate in the dry season to rehabilitate the nitrate-polluted aquifer by pumping the groundwater through the biofilter.


Master Project 4, Implementation and Adoption Pathways, is a project that integrates all the research and leverages the knowledge that has been accumulated in order to implement and test water sensitive pilot projects that are appropriate to Israeli requirements.

Sub-Project 4.1, Sustainable management of stormwater within the framework of urban planning: Best policies and practices, deals with understanding the social, technical and economic outcomes of advanced water sensitive design, while identifying barriers to implementation as well as opportunities within existing initiatives.

Sub-Project 4.2, Demonstrating the capability for urban stormwater reclamation in Israel, demonstrates, tests, and monitors full-scale systems in order to provide a “proof of concept” that will transform stormwater from a nuisance (as it is considered today) to a new and plentiful water resource, for the benefit of the city and its residents.

To read and download the research proposal: 

  Research_Proposal – pdf