Scientists identify bacterial culture to treat polluted Kishon sediment

Scientists involved in project, which is part of the Kishon River rehabilitation program, had been facing difficulties cultivating a fitting bacterial culture due to high salinity of the waterway.

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November 23, 2014 20:06
2 minute read.
Kishon River drainage

Kishon River drainage. (photo credit: AVISHAG SHAR YASHUV)

Scientists succeeded to develop this weekend a bacterial culture that will enable the biological treatment of sediment dredged from the Kishon River near Haifa.

Scientists involved in the project, which is part of the Kishon River rehabilitation program, had been facing difficulties cultivating a fitting bacterial culture due to the high salinity of the waterway, the Kishon Drainage and Rivers Authority said.

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Following weeks of evaluations and experiments, however, the researchers were able to generate a bacterial culture that would be able to properly purify the sediment that has been dredged from the once polluted river.

Dredging the sediment, which began in April, marks the last stage of rehabilitation efforts for the Kishon River, which was once considered the most polluted river in the country. The dredger, brought to Israel from the United States by Canadian firm EnGlobe Corp., is in the process of excavating some 400,000 cubic meters of contaminated sediment along a 7-kilometer stretch of the river.

The mud extracted by the dredger is to undergo vigorous biological treatment by means of the prepared bacterial culture, and then can be used to construct hills in a future Kishon metropolitan park, according to project officials.

Thus far, the dredger has extracted more than 30,000 cubic meters of sediment – an amount that could cover a soccer field to a height of about 4 meters, the authority said.

Following a series of rehabilitation efforts in recent years, the river has seen the gradual return of flora and fauna. Much of the contamination was attributed to the region’s factories, and about a decade ago, doctors discovered an abnormally high rate of cancer among navy commando veterans who had trained in the waterway.

After the Kishon Drainage and Rivers Authority issued an international tender for the project in June 2012, representatives from the Drainage Authority, the Kishon River Authority and the Environmental Protection Ministry in January 2013 selected EnGlobe to perform the dredging. Other project partners include the Water Authority, the Agriculture Ministry, the Manufacturers Association, the National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Ministry and Life and Environment – the umbrella organization for Israel’s green groups.

As of April, when the dredging began, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported that some NIS 90 million had been invested in the rehabilitation program. The money funded the removal of about 300,000 cubic meters of soil to facilitate a diversion of the river’s path, the ministry said.

Now that the proper bacterial culture has been identified, the Kishon Drainage Authority said that workers will be picking up the pace to compensate for the delays experienced in the past few weeks.

“The national project to rehabilitate the Kishon River is one of the most important and complex environmental projects that has occurred in the country in recent years,” the project managers said. “Despite the many complexities, the project has not been compromised.


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