Text size

The waters of Ein Ziv, one of the largest springs in the Galilee, are now flowing into the nearby Kziv Stream in a torrent - quite a sight after years in which a substantial portion of the water had been diverted to area residents. But this seemingly favorable scene hides the reason for the influx, which is that the water has been so polluted by sewage that it is currently unusable.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is concerned that once the problem of pollution is addressed, only a small amount of water will reach the stream. Such fears are bolstered by Water Authority plans to drill water before it even reaches the spring, which the authority says will not diminish the supply.

The drilling has been scheduled because the drought has diminished the reliability of the water supply in the Western Galilee, the Water Authority said, adding that the water to be drilled would not have been used in any case.

"The purpose of the drilling is to improve the water supply, without harming any springs," it said in a statement. "The water will be drilled from the groundwater level, that has no connection between it and the springs that nourish the Betzet or Kziv streams... The drilling will even allow for a reduction in the scope of extraction from other drilling sites which do affect Betzet Stream, thereby increasing the flow in the spring whose water goes to Betzet Stream."

However, last week SPNI asked the Water Authority chief and the infrastructure and environmental protection ministers to stop the drilling. The environmental groups says that water from the springs leading to Ga'aton Stream have been extracted for residential use and that Betzet Stream has almost completely dried up, leaving Kziv Stream the only stream that is active year-round.

"We don't oppose drought drilling in places that don't cause significant harm to nature," said Yohanan Darom, SPNI's environmental coordinator in the north. "What they're planning to do in Kziv Stream is beat a dead horse one more time. For years, this stream was a victim of the reality in which we extract more than what the rainfall provides, and now we're going to beat the horse again. We, as a society, should be embarrassed by what we've done to our water sources."

SPNI says that it doesn't trust the Water Authority's assessment that Kziv Stream won't be harmed, saying it made the same argument about Betzet Stream, which has since almost completely dried up.