Kiryat Shmona, Ein Zahav Stream
Kiryat Shmona residents cleaning up the riverbed in 2010. Photo by Dror Artzi
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Kiryat Shmona's Zahav Stream is receiving new life thanks to a four-year campaign by city residents and environmental activists from the Tel-Hai Academic College.

The stream is fed by the Zahav Spring in the heart of Kiryat Shmona. For years, the stream had been used to meet the city's needs, and some of the spring water was also diverted to the Neviot mineral water plant.

The Zahav Spring produces a significant quantity of water, but it could not meet Kiryat Shmona's growing demand. As a result, the stream had dried up, and the ecological systems along the riverbed were at risk of dying out.

Now, however, the Water Authority has decided to give Kiryat Shmona alternative water sources - and the Zahav Stream will be brought back to life.

The Water Authority promised that starting tomorrow, 60 to 80 cubic meters of water per hour will be pumped into the stream - around one-quarter of the Zahav Spring's output. Kiryat Shmona and the Neviot plant will be supplied by recently drilled wells in the Upper Galilee.

A few years ago, a small group of city residents decided to launch a campaign to rehabilitate the waterway and turn it into a central feature of the town. They formed an environmental group, Kismei Teva Ve'nof, headed by local landscape architect Joanna Nizri, and teamed up with activists from Tel-Hai's Green Movement.

Haaretz has followed the campaign from its outset, along with the preceding campaign in 2007 against construction in Zahav Park, where the stream passes.

"After the campaign against the construction succeeded, we realized it could wind up being futile given that the stream was drying out in the summer and the ecological systems along the riverbed could be lost," Nizri explained.

The activists wanted Zahav Stream to flow year-round.

"No other city in the country has a stream like this," Nizri said yesterday. "We don't have many assets here, aside from natural resources. We fought for our right to have that natural resource, and I am pleased that they have now decided to let us keep it.

"If we hadn't have raised the issue, who would have cared? It looked like a lost cause at the outset because among other reasons, we didn't want to protest Neviot, which is a big employer in the city. We proved that residents can effect change. All you need is perseverance and patience."

The Water Authority has promised that the river will receive the spring's full output within two years.

"The stream will finally have water all year. This will give life to the ecological systems," said Nizri.