What's Creeping Into Our Creeks?

Nahals Alexander and Kishon were hit with serious pollution just before the start of fall holidays, thanks to contractors' negligence

Negligence on the part of a contractor working for the Defense Ministry is what caused Nahal Alexander to become polluted, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry. The contractor, the ministry says, failed to inform his office that he had removed a device from the separation fence over a section of the Nablus stream, the main tributary leading into the creek. Large amounts of refuse and sewage - which had built up on the eastern side of the fence from the cities and towns of the Palestinian Authority, and which do not undergo any purification process - subsequently made their way into the waters of Nahal Alexander.

The polluted waters of Nahal Alexander. September 7, 2010Sharon Drainage Authority

As the emergency device collects untreated sewage from the PA, the ministry explains, the contractor should have provided his office, the authority responsible for creek drainage and the Palestinian sewage treatment department with advance notice about its removal.

The resultant flow of sewage caused breakdowns in the treatment system and also blocked the channel leading to it. The Sharon region drainage authority employed several strategies just before the holiday, in an attempt to clean the creek and renew the regular flow of sewage to the treatment plant. There remains concern, however, that the pollutants spread to additional sections of the creek, where previously only treated sewage flowed. While the quality of such water is not necessarily high, it is less polluted than the untreated waste that has accumulated in the Palestinian Authority.

The damage felt especially severe as it hit just before the holiday period, when thousands of visitors were expected to visit the area, the ministry said. The head of the Sharon Drainage Authority, Nissim Almon, underscored that a large-scale effort to exterminate insects will now have to be made, to reduce the dangers of mosquito infestation.

The IDF spokesperson's office issued the following response: "Structures intended to prevent the flow of sewage from the West Bank are in place near the separation fence in the area around the creek. Over the course of maintenance work, sewage flowed into the creek. The Israel Defense Forces regrets the damage caused and following this incident, the matter will be investigated by the territorial brigade and proper steps will be taken."

In a separate matter, regarding the pollution of Nahal Kishon, the authority says a contractor working in the area damaged a main sewage pipe, causing severe pollution of Nahal Gdora, a tributary of the Kishon. The authority is concerned this will spread to the Kishon itself, which only recently started to see the return of plant and animal life.