Rivers of Israel
The Kishon River: From sewage and industrial waste canal to nature park in just a decade
The 7-km.-long Kishon River, which begins in the Western Galilee and ends where it empties into Haifa Bay, was until recently considered a “dead river,” according to Sharon Nissim, general director of the Kishon River Authority.
The Hadera River: ‘Still a very sick river, but slowly improving’
The Hadera River (Nahal Hadera), on which settlements have been located since ancient times, begins in Northern Samaria and flows through the city of Hadera until it reaches the Mediterranean alongside the Orot Rabin power plant, Israel’s only coal-fired power station.
The Alexander River: Still polluted despite much being done to revive it
Our river walk continues with the well-known Alexander River, located a few kilometers south of Nahal Hadera. This river has become a very popular picnic spot, despite continuing to be very polluted; most of the pollution comes from West Bank Arab villages. A large West Bank olive oil processing plant is also partially responsible for the river’s pollution, notes Perlmuter.
The Poleg River: Pollution, nature reserve and sea turtle estuary all in one
Nahal Poleg, a river originating also in the West Bank, is now in the process of being turned into a nature reserve, in the parts known as the Poleg River Estuary, between the Wingate Sports Institute and one of Netanya’s most upscale neighborhoods, Ramat Poleg.
The Yarkon River: Waterway with an unsavory past in revision
The Yarkon River is one of Israel’s shortest, as well as one of its most publicized. It begins at Tel Afek, also known by its Greek name Antipatris, near Rosh Ha’ayin. Its total length is only 27.5 km., with an actual “straight distance” of only 17 km.
The Sorek – perhaps Israel’s most polluted river
The last river on our virtual river walk, the Sorek, is one of Israel’s longest. Beginning just outside Jerusalem in the West Bank, the Sorek meanders across the countryside, passing Rehovot, Yavne and Ness Ziona until it finally reaches the sea just south of Palmahim.
According to SPNI’s Perlmuter. “The Sorek is, for all practical purposes, a “very sick river.” It receives a lot of sewage and other forms of pollution from cities and towns it passes, especially the city of Yavne. The Sorek’s biggest problem is pollution from human sewage; although it also gets quantities of industrial waste.”
The river wasn’t always in the sad state it is in now; this reporter remembers walking alongside it 30 years ago with one of Ness Ziona’s original settlers, who said that he and his friends “used to swim and fish in the river when we were kids.” Of course he was referring to the early 1900s, and not even the late 1970s, when my visit was made.
A biological survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment in 2007 found the Sorek to contain a number of serious pollutants, including cadmium and other metals, as well as high amounts of E-coli bacteria. According to the survey, the quantities of sewage released into the river from Yavne are the worst of the pollutants flowing into the river. Attempts to treat the water in the river include the introduction of hypochlorous acid, often used to treat water in swimming pools, and the installation of artificial river “bunkers” to help filter the water.
Funds to maintain and rehabilitate the river come from the Environment Ministry, the JNF, and regional councils. But despite the efforts being made, the Sorek is, according to SPNI field ranger Perlmuter, still in a “very sad state.”