New desalination plant a 'mistake' or case of NIMBY syndrome?

By
June 22, 2016 21:35

Israel Water Authority: The need for an additional desalination plant came about as natural freshwater sources in Northern Israel have been drying up.

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Desalination plant

Desalination plant (illustrative photo). (photo credit:INGIMAGE)

A plan to build a desalination plant in northern Israel has drawn the ire of local residents and legislators as well. However, an official from the Israel Water Authority said the harsh reaction may just be a case of NIMBY (Not In MY Backyard) syndrome.

The need for an additional desalination plant came about as natural freshwater sources in Northern Israel have been drying up, especially amid three years of lower-than-average rain, according to Uri Schor, spokesman for the Israel Water Authority. He said that Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is already has already reached its lowest red line even though summer has just begun.

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Despite the dire situation that Schor spoke of, a protest of the proposed facility on Tuesday managed to draw hundreds of protestors, mostly Western Galilee residents .

“Everyone agrees that desalination is necessary and important, but not on their property,” Schor said of the plan's opposition in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Although the exact details, size and cost of the plant have not yet been decided –it is still in the early planning stages – two potential locations between Acre and Nahariya have been chosen by an expert committee from the Interior Ministry, made up of officials from the Health Ministry, Environmental Protection Ministry, Defense Ministry, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Society For the Protection of Nature in Israel. He said that the committee also heard opposition from residents from the area of the proposed facility and all of them agreed that the plant is needed (though again opposed the location close to their communities).

One would be south of Regba, while the other potential location would be east of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, Schor said.

Joining the protestors on Tuesday were Zionist Union MK Yael Cohen-Paran and Yesh Atid MK Haim Yellin.

Yellin called the planned facility's placement a “serious mistake” for the water market. “It's an absurd plan that will cause intense harm to this rapidly-disappearing pastoral area,” which he said also serves as a draw for tourists.

Cohen-Paran said the desalination plant is better suited to “an industrial zone, not an agricultural heartland.” She expressed a claim that alternative locations were never properly investigated and questioned whether the treatment plant is necessary at all. “Building a plant like this will lead to the construction of more factories and industry that will destroy the ecological richness of the western Galilee,” she said.

In response to her claim, Schor said that the Interior Ministry's committee had investigated 20 alternative locations over the span of eight years before narrowing it down to the two aforementioned sites. Furthermore, the plant would be built 3.5 km. away from the sea in order to preserve the beach and coastal area.

He said the plant will provide “a steady supply of water” and improve water quality for not only the Western Galille but the Upper Galilee and Haifa region as well.

“The best solution would be to have plenty of rain, but we don't have it,” Schor said

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