water reservoir 311.
(photo credit: Mekorot)
As the water level in the Kinneret hovered around the lower red line on
Wednesday, a judge in the Tel Aviv District Court slammed a petition by Beit
Uziel, Beit Hashmonai and Karmei Yosef local councils against the construction
of an agricultural wastewater reservoir in Kibbutz Gezer.
carrier Mekorot said the 1.3 million cubic meter reservoir is an essential part
of a national plan to address the country’s severe water shortage by using
recycled, purified water from the surrounding cities’ sewage system. That water
would be drawn off and used for agricultural irrigation
However, petitioners complained the reservoir would damage the
landscape, affect tourism, create noise pollution and foul odors and attract
mosquitoes, and filed the petition to try to halt its construction.
Michal Agmon criticized the petitioners for opposing the wastewater reservoir
solely on the grounds that it would be built next to their community, Beit
Uziel, while having no objections to the use of wastewater for irrigation per
“This is a clear case of Not In My Back Yard syndrome... it’s
about people’s desire to enjoy the benefits of modern life without the
consequences of their negative effects,” said Agmon. “This syndrome is
unacceptable. We should care about our water economy. We should establish
reservoirs for wastewater. And since our country is very small, it’s obvious
that these [reservoirs] will be created in the ‘backyards’ of these or other
The court noted that the reservoir will contain only water
purified to the highest possible level, which will not cause any odor or attract
mosquitoes, and dismissed petitioners’ allegations that the reservoir would
bring health risks, blight the local landscape and harm tourism.
ruling to allow the wastewater project to proceed, however, Agmon did stipulate
that a monitoring and control system must be installed in the reservoir to
ensure wastewater quality.
Her ruling also emphasized the responsibility
for conserving water lies with everybody.
“Israel is drying up,” said the
judge. “That’s what the news broadcasts tell us. We are all encouraged to save
water and find solutions to alleviate the water shortage.”
years of drought, Israel is suffering one of its worst water crises in
In order to alleviate the water shortage, the Ministry of
Environmental Protection has cited wastewater treatment and reuse as being high
on Israel’s list of national priorities.
Last year, the Knesset Internal
and Environmental Protection Committee approved stringent standards for
wastewater treatment so wastewater can be used for irrigation
According to a report by wastewater expert
Prof. Gedaliah Shelef of the Technion, Israel has already devoted more
effort than any other country in the world to wastewater reuse, in terms of its
size and economy, and has the highest percentage in the world of wastewater
reuse for agricultural irrigation.
Environmental groups welcomed the
ruling, but also urged Israelis to help alleviate the water crisis by conserving
water at home.
Gidon Bromberg, Israel director of Friends of the Earth
Middle East (FoEME) said reservoirs made sense, but also emphasized the need to
reduce the amount of wastewater being produced by adopting practices to reduce
water-use at home.
“We believe that we should encourage the maximum reuse
of water before it even gets to the waste water treatment plants,” Bromberg
“If we applied this level of water management there would be less
need for wastewater reservoirs.”
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