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Workers in Bat Yam have been reinforcing a dangerously unstable embankment holding up part of the main sewer line serving the entire Tel Aviv region after representatives of cities in the region discovered that the line was at risk of collapse.

An estimated 15,000 cubic meters of raw sewage pass through the sewer every hour, to the region's main treatment center in Rishon Letzion.

The discovery was made some 10 days ago by officials from the Dan Regional Association for Environmental Infrastructure, known in Hebrew as Igudan, the association's chairman said this week.

The officials were on a routine patrol of the border between Bat Yam and Rishon Letzion when they noticed that a contractor removing construction debris in the Bat Yam neighborhood of Neveh Hof was having his workers carry out digging works just a few meters away from the sewer line embankment.

The sewer line could have collapsed if the workers had continued digging and disturbed the foundations of the embankment, a representative from the regional association said.

"If we hadn't stopped these works in time, the main line would ultimately have been left in the air and parts of it would collapse like dominoes," Igudan chairman Mark Okon said Monday. "That would have caused the leak of a large quantity of sewage in the area [of the sewer line] itself. In addition, we would have had to suspend the transfer of most of the Dan region's sewage to the area until the work to fix the pipe was completed."

In such a case, most of the region's sewage would have to be dumped into the Mediterranean Sea untreated, causing significant water pollution. That's what happened seven years ago, when a section of the sewer line in Jaffa collapsed.

After that incident, Okon asked the Bat Yam and Rishon Letzion municipalities to help the association fence off the area around the sewer line embankment and increase patrols to monitor the disposal of construction debris.

The regional association is also planning to construct a new sewer line as a backup and is pushing for a wall that would protect the existing sewer line in the Rishon Letzion area.