11/07/2010 02:30

Ra’anana Anglos encourage the public to conserve – in ways both funny and smart.

The water crisis is expected to get much worse before it gets better. Six years of little rain are stressing resources to the limit.

Having cut back water allotments for agriculture and public gardening, the Water Authority has begun to focus its PR efforts on the household sector.

One group of Ra’anana-based Anglos sees an enormous potential there and has just launched the new water conservation solutions company GabiH2O.

These olim, some recent, some not, have made it their mission to help families save water easily and amusingly – by combining a water-saving kit with an educational campaign of clever cartoon characters who deliver their message through wordplay and pop culture.

The GabiH2O message is simple: Anyone can save water. Moreover, saving water means saving money and energy.

The kit includes: a showerhead that reduces the amount of water used without compromising on water pressure; two water aerators for faucets; one swivel aerator with a water-pausing on/off switch for the kitchen sink; a toilet tank bag to reduce the amount of water used when flushing; a foldable, waterproof bucket for collecting cold water as you wait for the hot water in the shower to kick in; a shower timer to “beat the clock” and take the quickest showers possible; and, finally, leak detection tablets and tips.

The entire kit comes in a box made of reusable, recycled paper with soy-based ink, and is selling for NIS 250 plus VAT. Ten percent of the profits will go to charity.

The kit might not seem like a major water-saving tool at first glance, but looks can be deceiving. The average Israeli uses 165 liters per day. That’s broken down into the very uses the water-saving kit looks to address.

According to Water Authority numbers, flushing the toilet uses 60 liters per day; drinking, cooking and dishwashing – 30 liters; bathing – 60 liters; laundry and cleaning – 8 liters; and gardening another 8 liters.

By using the kit, a family of four could save 200 liters a day, the company has calculated.

Taking shorter showers alone would produce significant savings, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor pointed out to The Jerusalem Post this week.

Almost all of the items in the water-saving kit are proven conservation devices.

Toilet tank bags and similar devices are somewhat controversial, as at least one Health Ministry official said at a Knesset committee hearing that the toilets are already calibrated to use just enough water to rinse them out so germs do not build up.

However, GabiH2O founder Avi Djanogly told the Post that such bags were being distributed in the US and UK to encourage water savings.

“There are some toilets that will not operate with less than the manufactured volume in the toilet system.

These are newer toilets,” he wrote via e-mail.

“We have done extensive tests on multiple toilets in Israel and have found no issue using our bag. Furthermore, our bags are anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal and have been approved and certified by the EPA in the United States and Waterwise in the UK. These countries have rigorous testing procedures with regard to safety but have authorized and indeed recommended the cistern bag.

“Indeed many of the utility companies in the USA and UK send displacement bags out to their customers in an active attempt to promote water conservation. The toilet uses over 35% of the water that comes into our house, and we want to try and encourage people to save water,” he said.

GabiH2O is the brainchild of a team led by founder Djanogly – a former antique dealer in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. Djanogly made aliya to Ra’anana with his family a couple of years ago.

“I was shocked at how far the Kinneret had receded since I had last seen it 30 years ago on a teen tour. So I decided to do something about it! Hence the GabiH2O water-saving kit idea was born,” he said.

CEO Jeremy Broder “qualified as a plumbing and heating engineer in the UK back in the early 80s, ran a business there and then followed my dream to come and live in Israel in ’92, where I met my wife and had four great kids.

In 2002, I had the opportunity to retrain in the USA, where I attained the position of VP of operations at a $1.5 billion apparel company. I returned home (Israel, of course) in 2008. As the CEO of GabiH2O, I hope to help save the precious water we all take for granted.”

Brandon Bean (the Green Bean) is a plumber from South Africa who made aliya in 1993. For years, he has been into water conservation.

Brandon has been able to apply his practical skills to the Gabi message, saying, “You don’t have to be a plumber to be an expert in saving water.”

Jehuda Saar grew up in Belgium and lived in the US and UK before making aliya in 2006. A veteran of the steel recycling business, Saar is also an audio and video editing producer for the comics and cartoons.

Not content to offer technical solutions for water savings, GabiH2O is intent on reaching out and changing people’s mindsets through education as well.

Their preferred tool: a cartoon camel named Gabi with a backstory dating to Abraham and a number of cleverly named friends.

Gabi was one of Abraham’s camels, so the story goes, and was entrusted with the secrets of water preservation along with Abraham’s other camels.

For centuries, they kept the lore alive and hidden around an oasis. But Gabi believes it’s time to share it with the world.

He’s joined by a cast of characters including “Hugh Stoomutch – he doesn’t mean to use too much, he just doesn’t know better; Terri Belle Waist – lovely teen – Very fashion conscience, but oh so wasteful; Dame Eve N. Moorewater – English grand dame – Thinks the rules don’t apply to her; and Prof. Ligate – mad professor always inventing huge impractical water-saving devices,” according to Djanogly.

Gabi and his friends will appear in a cartoon strip on the company’s website every week, Djanogly told the Post, where there will also be games, contests, water-saving tips and other ways to draw people in and create a mentality of savings first.

“Our ethos is that we are not aiming at changing the world. We are aiming at trying to change ourselves and our behavior. If we do that the world around us will change. Small beginnings lead to great ends,” Djanogly said.

“We don’t believe in restricting water use. We believe in just using water more wisely and taking steps to maximize what we do use to best effect,” he said.

A major superstore in Israel has already saved thousands of shekels by installing the GabiH2O’s devices, according to documentation provided by the company.

GabiH2O is also working on its own inventions to enable more control by developing an adjustable flow water-saving device for faucets. They are also working on a way to reduce toilet flushing by 80% and cut 20% off the water bill.