Beach pollution 311.
(photo credit: .)
Beaches on the nation’s Mediterranean coast were closed for a total of 49 days this winter, down from 84 last winter, according to a new report.
The Zalul Environmental Association released its annual summation ahead of the opening of the swimming season this Thursday. The six-month season ends on October 7.
Beaches are one of the country’s prime tourist attractions, topping even Jerusalem in the number of visitors, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data cited in Zalul’s report. About 1,600,000 people were guests of the hotels along the Mediterranean coast in 2008, as opposed to 1.3 million who visited Jerusalem. And many people, of course, visit without staying in hotels. It is imperative to keep such a tourist treasure clean and free of contamination, Zalul stressed.
Twelve incidents forced beach closures over the winter. The major cause was heavy rains overwhelming sewerage systems and washing sewage into the sea. Beaches were closed for 11 such incidents last winter. Zalul said that properly functioning sewage systems have mechanisms that deal with flooding.
Haifa’s beaches were closed five times, and Tel Aviv’s four times, while Emek Hefer, Herzliya and the Tamar Regional Council’s beaches were each closed once.
Zalul’s report noted that Haifa’s Hashaket and Bat Galim beaches would be closed indefinitely because of maintenance work the municipality was undertaking on the city’s sewage system – with the approval of the Environmental Protection Ministry.
The number of days the beaches were closed for each incident was also
fewer than in 2009, with an average closure of three days. The average
does not include the extended closure of the two Haifa beaches.
Still, Zalul interim director Ezer Fischler said complacency should be
avoided. Many municipalities preferred to deal with sewage system
breakdowns or burst pipes rather than conduct ongoing preventive
maintenance, Fischler said.
There is no law that mandates preventive maintenance of sewage systems.
During a beach tour on Tuesday ahead of the swimming season, Zalul and
the Corona beer company unveiled a new “Save the Beach” program that
will be implemented in Israel for the first time this year. People can
choose a beach from a list that they believe should be helped and
Corona and Zalul will undertake educational and conservational
activities for that beach. Corona has already instituted the program in
The list can be found at www.coronasavethebeach.org.il.