Almost 20 years after the state launched a project to rehabilitate the country's rivers and streams, the State Comptroller recently found that not a single watercourse has been fully rehabilitated. Unless the government investment in the project greatly increases, it will take another 100 years to be completed, the comptroller estimates in his report.
The Environmental Protection Ministry has not set stream rehabilitation as a top priority and leaves it to the drainage authorities, the comptroller says. The ministry denies this and says the project constitutes a major part of its activity.
Half of Israel's 31 rivers and streams flow into the Mediterranean Sea. Over the years, most of them have become badly polluted and still contain sewage in various amounts. Plans to rehabilitate many of them have been drafted, and the pollution in the Kishon and Yarkon rivers has been considerably reduced, but the work is far from complete.
One of the obstacles holding up the rehabilitation is the numerous authorities dealing with it. Another is the fact that the issue is not among the ministry's major five objectives.
For the past three years, the ministry hasn't even appointed an official to head its Water and Streams Department, the report says.
The ministry dismissed the assumption that "stream rehabilitation is not at the center of our activity" and issued a statement saying "Recently, NIS 25 million was allocated for rehabilitating streams nationwide, a significant increase compared to previous years. The ministry is working to build several metropolitan parks along the streams and to increase their natural water supply ... the ministry's activity has resulted in reducing the pollutants entering the streams by 50 percent."
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