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Zalul launches their national campaign “Returning Life to Our Rivers”

May 19, 2009

Lachish River, Naaman River and Sorek River

Lachish River, Naaman River, and Sorek River

In conjunction with the campaign launch, Zalul has released a report on the management failure of the water resources of Israel’s rivers.

The report states that every year between 48-72 million shekels in sewage fees are redirected by local authorities for other projects. The final result is severely polluted rivers and a loss of over $90 million a year.

The pollution that affects Israel’s rivers is a result of years of neglect by the Israeli government – both national ministries and local authorities. It is a failure brought about by a limited world view, the perception that Israel had an inexhaustible amount of water resources, and the notion that rivers were meant to be used as sewage canals – while disregarding their important place in the natural ecosystem and their hidden potential to become waterways for sport and recreation.

This world view which puts the interests of polluters above the interests of the public has brought about the exploitation of Israel’s precious water resources, the death of animals and plant life, and has denied the public the right to enjoy them. Israel’s rivers are now hidden in the country’s backyard – ugly and abandoned.

The majority of Israel’s rivers are characterized by high levels of pollution and very low water flow. Out of the 1.2 billion cubic meters (317 billion gallons) of water that flows through the rivers each year, over 180 million cubic meters (47.5 billion gallons) is wastewater and leftovers from fish farms that pollute both the rivers and ground water.

For the last 60 years, local authorities have been discharging over 158 million cubic meters (41.7 billion gallons) of wastewater into the rivers and the Mediterranean Sea each year. In August 2000 the government decided to return clean water to the nation’s rivers by 2010, however the date was soon postponed to 2015 – a death sentence to the already suffering rivers.

The goal of Zalul’s campaign, “Returning Life to Our Rivers,” is to take action and change the world view of both local and national leaders and push them to truly change the situation of Israel’s rivers. In 2009, Zalul will focus its efforts on five rivers across Israel: The Southern Jordan (including the Herod River), the Na’aman-Hilazon watershed, the Kishon River, the Sorek River, and the Lachish River. The ultimate goal is to return these rivers to the Israeli public by making them safe to enjoy once again.

Zalul’s campaign objectives include:

· Appoint an environmental organization representative to the Water Authority Council

· Revoke the government decision to delay the return of water to rivers in 2015 and, in exchange, return water to the rivers as the development of desalination facilities progresses

· Increase enforcement against those who pollute rivers and water resources

· Implement a watershed-focused management policy

· Discontinue the discharge of wastewater from fish farms and textile factories to rivers

On May 17, 2009, Zalul sent letters to Israel’s Minister of the Environment – MK Gilad Erdan; Minister of Infrastructure – MK Uzi Landau; Minister of Agriculture – MK Shalom Simhon; and to the Director of the Water Authority – Professor Uri Shani, informing them of the campaign, citing the aforementioned information, and requesting their cooperation in this urgent manner.

Said Ezer Fischler, Assistant Director of Zalul, “In recent years, the rivers of Israel have been stolen from the public to be used by local authorities as their own private sewage canals. These policies of the Israeli government make absolutely no sense and have led to the public losing all trust in the safety of their local rivers.”

“These policies cannot continue to exist, particularly at a time when Israel is facing such a serious water crisis. The country is losing millions of shekels a year while the public’s health suffers. Zalul is determined to work with the system and the public to change this behavior and world view.”

Zalul has been receiving a lot of attention in the press due to the new campaign!

Make sure to check out the article in the Jerusalem Post:

Zalul launches nationwide campaign urging the rehabilitation of streams

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