Jordan River - Archive photo: Dror Artzi - 05112011
A northern section of the Jordan River. Photo by Archive photo: Dror Artzi
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The country's water authority is refusing to allow extra allocations of water to save drying out springs and rivers in nature reserves, in contravention of state guidelines, according to a nature group. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel claims steps must be taken to increase the amount of water reaching these natural areas. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the government agency which deals with such issues, says that an increase in water supplies was recently promised to several of these nature reserves.

Reserves of natural water used for many of these sites have totally run dry, and the water authority has used special pipes to bring water to these nature reserves for several years.

Three weeks ago, the water authority announced its allocation budget for 2012, including 10 million cubic meters of fresh water for springs and rivers in nature sites. Another 12 million cubic meters of purified sewage water can be added to this allocation, the authority ruled.

SPNI claims that a decade ago, the government decided to allocate 50 million cubic meters of fresh water annually to nature reserves. Officials at the Nature and Parks Authority dispute this claim, saying that a government master plan for 2003-2010 stipulated an allocation of 25 million cubic meters of water to these nature reserves.

"Springs and rivers in Israel are drying up, and the reduction in water allocations causes irreversible damage to their ecological systems," an SPNI official said. "The supply of water via pipes is not a way to revive nature. Steps have to be taken to allocate 25 million cubic meters of water to nature during 2012."

An SPNI survey shows that in 60 of 91 springs throughout the country, there is a continuing trend of decrease in fresh water levels.

The authority also decided to allocate 410 cubic meters of spring water for agricultural purposes. The amount is comparable to allocations for agriculture in 2011. The allocation will be reduced should this winter see considerable rainfall. "