Nahariya flood -  Tomer Neuberg - 31012012
Despite best efforts, hundreds of thousands of Israelis couldn't get to work yesterday due to the weather. Photo by Tomer Neuberg
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Townships in the Western Galilee have for the first time prepared a plan to prevent recurrent floods that damage property and waste precious water every winter.

The Ga'aton River, which runs through Nahariya, serves as drainage for much of the Western Galilee. The result is that heavy rainfall quickly causes floods, which in turn cause property damage. Moreover, the water that overflows the Ga'aton's banks is wasted - often millions of cubic meters each year. The new plan is aimed at both preventing the floods and capturing the water for future use.

The Western Galilee Drainage and Rivers Authority presented the plan to the northern district planning and building committee two weeks ago. Nahariya and all the nearby agricultural communities are backing the plan, which was prepared by the M. Rosenthal Engineers company.

The plan calls for building reservoirs to capture and store the region's run-off near the headwaters of the Ga'aton before it ever reaches Nahariya. One will be located in a quarry near Kibbutz Yehiam, since the quarrying activity there has already created a pit ideal for the purpose. The captured water will then be gradually fed back into the groundwater.

"Turning the quarry into a reservoir will be the easiest part, so we might begin it within a year" of the plan's approval, said Uri Arnon, deputy chairman of the Mateh Asher Regional Council and head of the drainage authority.

Another reservoir, able to hold 1 million cubic meters of water, will be built near Kibbutz Kabri. That water will be used for irrigation.

In addition, overflow from the region's springs, which currently ends up in the Ga'aton, will be diverted via a drainage canal into another stream that runs nearby. Arnon said increasing the water flow to that stream would also benefit the region's ecology.

An additional stream will be widened to improve the region's drainage.

But the engineering firm warned that none of this would suffice to keep Nahariya from flooding unless the city also improved its own drainage system.

Usually, major drainage plans of this sort spark opposition from environmental organizations, which fear they will harm the natural landscape. But the environmentalists' representative on the planning council, Yohanan Darom, has backed this initiative, saying it manages to help Nahariya without harming the surrounding countryside.