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Lowdermilk, Walter Clay°


LOWDERMILK, WALTER CLAY ° (1888–1974), U.S. land conservation and hydrology expert, friend of Zionism and Israel. Lowdermilk was born in North Carolina and studied at the universities of Arizona and California. After studying afforestation problems in Britain, he joined the afforestation department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Later, he studied soil erosion and conservation, being one of the first to base his conclusions on field experiments. In 1927, after five years as professor of afforestation at the University of Nanking, he founded a hydrological experimentation station in Southern California. His researches were the basis, in part, for U.S. soil conservation schemes in the 1930s, and from 1937 to 1947 he headed the research department of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.

In 1939 Lowdermilk visited Ereẓ Israel, where he studied conditions and development prospects. He published his conclusion in PalestineLand of Promise (1944), in which, contrary to the view upon which the Mandatory Government ostensibly based its White Paper restricting further Jewish immigration on the grounds that the economic absorption capacity of Ereẓ Israel was full, he showed that the country could support a population of three million. He warmly praised Zionist land settlement and agricultural development, and proposed a comprehensive plan for the development of the Jordan Valley along the lines of the U.S. Tennessee Valley Authority and the diversion of the river's sweet waters for irrigation for the benefit of Ereẓ Israel and the neighboring countries. After the establishment of Israel's independence, this scheme became the basis for the Israel National Water scheme. He also proposed the generation of electricity by the transmission of Mediterranean water through a tunnel to the Dead Sea. Lowdermilk visited Israel in the early 1950s and for three years served, on behalf of the un Food and Agriculture Organization, as an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture on the preparation of Israel's soil conservation and water schemes. In 1955 he returned to Israel on behalf of the U.S. government and helped to develop the Agricultural Engineering Department of the Technion in Haifa, which he headed for three years and which bears his name. His writings include Jewish Colonization in Palestine (1939) and "Assignment in Israel" in The Land (1960), pp. 168–83.

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