Despite its strategic location as a city on the ridge that divides the Judean hills from the desert, Jerusalem has only one natural source of water–the Gihon springs. Once the Temple was built by King Solomon, and tens of thousands of pilgrims started to ascend to the holy city from all over the country to take part in temple rituals that themselves took a great deal of water, the need to develop a water system that would serve the city became crucial.
Today, the Gihon spring is still gurgling (Gihon means sporadic sputtering in Hebrew, since that’s what the spring does…) It’s right below the City of David excavations just south east of the Old City. The Jerusalem Water Company today is known as the Gihon, and provides the citizens of 21st-century Jerusalem with water from a variety of reservoirs around the city.
Last May, while working on an upgrade of the Jerusalem water structure, Gihon workers uncovered a 2,000 year-old arched bridge that was part of the ancient aqueduct system that brought water to the Temple Mount from a reservoir near Bethlehem.
During the mid 20th-century, Jerusalemites hoarded water in cisterns that are still visible in some of the older neighborhoods such as Nachlaot and Meah Shearim.
Today, every Jerusalemite does his/her best to conserve water. We don’t see a drop of rain between May-October, and with a population approaching 800,000 and one natural spring and a few reservoirs, water is a precious commodity.