The Tel Aviv-area Yarkon river is one of the most beautiful spots in central Israel.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
For the second time in a decade, the Yarkon River Authority has begun spraying pesticide along the length of the river to control a mosquito outbreak caused by pollution.
In a statement released on Sunday, the YRA said that though it was reluctant to use pesticide, the spraying had become necessary due to sewage leaks. “The river is not able to repel pests naturally,” it said.
A spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post that the authority was using a natural pesticide to minimize environmental harm.
She added that without spraying, the mosquito population would rapidly increase, posing health concerns for visitors to the river and nearby residents.
The pesticide kills the larva of the Culex genus of mosquitoes, and costs NIS 5,000 per day. The authority has not decided how long it will continue spraying pesticide.
The current mosquito outbreak was caused by sewage and gray water leaks from a waste treatment plant in the southeastern Sharon region that caused “significant ecological damage” to the river, said the authority. The leaks were detected after white foam, which is a sign of detergent, was spotted floating on the river. Less than a month before, the authority permitted gray water to flow into the Yarkon.
Gray water is recycled water that has been used in showers, sinks, dishwashers and other household appliances. While considered unsafe to drink, it is used commonly used for irrigation.
The authority added that river pollution is expected to continue for at least two years until a new wastewater treatment plant is inaugurated. The current sewage treatment plant, it said, is overloaded and is treating four times the amount of waste that it was built to handle.
The Yarkon River is monitored on a regular basis by a team from the Yarkon River Authority. Water management professionals at the YRA expressed the hope that with the new plant and the three-year, NIS 220 million action plan for sediment drainage and remediation, the Yarkon will be rehabilitated just as the once polluted Yarkon River has been cleaned up.