Yellow water following the sewage spill at Palmahim Beach.
(photo credit: MOSHE KOSTI / ZALUL)
The Health Ministry issued a warning on Wednesday afternoon to stay out of the water at Palmahim Beach near Rishon Lezion, as well as parts of the Sorek Stream due to the presence of large amounts of sewage and semi-treated “gray water.”
All visitors to the beach and river were told to avoid bathing and to maintain a good distance from the area where the polluted water is concentrated, mainly near Kibbutz Palmahim.
One environmental group accused authorities of knowing about the pollution in advance, but failing to warn the public. Environmental NGO Zalul said it received complaints from surfers in the area several days before the ministry issued its official warning.
Surfers notified the organization that they had been experiencing dry eyes and hoarse throats directly after exiting the water and some had to seek medical treatment as well.
The organization said that “the issue was silenced by the authorities,” which knew about the pollution but did not act for a variety of reasons, but mainly from a lack of coordination among different government bodies. Zalul repeated its stance that a separate “sea and beach authority” be established.
Both the Health and Environmental Protection ministries said that water quality tests were being performed to find the pollution’s source.
Tests carried out by Zalul, however, found the pollution’s source to be from Hagihon Company’s Eastern Sewage Treatment Plant near Jerusalem, while the source of the gray water was the Dan Regional Waste Treatment facility north of Kibbutz Palmahim.
Gray water is recycled water that has been used in showers or sinks and is most often used in Israel for agricultural purposes, such as for watering crops. It is unsafe to drink, however.