TAHAL (Heb. תַּהַ״ל), a corporation whose name is compounded from the initials of the Hebrew words for Water Planning for Israel (Tikhnun ha-Mayim le-Yisrael). Established by the government of Israel in 1952 by merging the water resources department of the Ministry of Agriculture with the engineering division of the *Mekorot water company (Israel's national water supply agency), Tahal was founded under Israel's company law. The majority of shares (52%) are held by the government; the remainder are divided equally between the *Jewish Agency and the *Jewish National Fund. The policy of the company is determined by a board of directors. In 1961 the company established a subsidiary, Tahal Consulting Engineers Ltd., to undertake work on a commercial basis in Israel and abroad.
Tahal draws up long-, medium-, and short-term plans for the development of Israel's water resources and drainage facilities. It plans and designs the country's main water supply, irrigation, and drainage works, and advises the government on all issues connected with water resources. In this capacity, Tahal has planned and designed Israel's major groundwater developments, river-water projects, and flood and sewage reclamation projects, including all the installations incorporated in Israel's National Water Carrier (the Jordan Project). It has also carried out extensive research programs on water conservation, including cloud seeding to increase rainfall, evaporation suppression, increase of the water obtainable from uncultivated areas, improved management of groundwater basins, and the utilization of surface and groundwater resources.
In 1968 Tahal designed the last phase of the development of Israel's natural and reclaimed water resources, and studied the engineering and economic aspects of the construction of a large-scale plant for desalting sea water. In 1956, the company was entrusted to design the first crude-oil pipeline (between Eilat and Haifa). Since then, oil and gas transportation and storage have remained one of Tahal's activities, and in 1967 it carried out all engineering studies for the major international pipeline from Eilat to Ashkelon, which was completed and operative in 1970. Over the years, the company has entered other fields such as highway and industrial engineering.
From the early 1960s, Tahal extended operations to an increasing number of developing countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Its projects, sometimes supported by other Israel agencies, include national and regional development plans for water supply and irrigated agriculture, major water supply, irrigation and drainage projects, the planning and management of regional irrigation schemes, and groundwater development and management. A number of foreign branch offices and partially owned subsidiaries were set up in the company's principal areas of activity. In the early 2000s, Tahal employed approximately 500 engineers, agronomists, scientists, technicians, and administrative workers. Its areas of specialization continued to cover a wide spectrum, encompassing water management, agricultural planning, wastewater treatment, environmental engineering, civil engineering and infrastructure, industrial engineering and energy as well as turnkey projects in the water and sanitation sectors. Tahal's operations are divided as follows: 27% of projects in Israel, 24% in Latin America, 21% in the Mediterranean basin, 21% in Europe, and the rest in Africa and Asia. The total value of projects undertaken by tahal in 2001 amounted to us $1 billion.
Tahal, Tahal, the Company and Its Activities (1965); Tahal Consulting Engineers Ltd., History, Organization, Activities (1967); Tahal, Jordan Project (1963); idem, Yarkon-Negev Project (1956); idem, Dan Region Sewage Reclamation Project (1962), Tahal publications, nos. 243, 244–48, 250–52; A. Wiener, Irrigation Water System – Israel's National Water Grid (1967). website: www.tahal.co.il.
[Aaron Wiener /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]