(photo credit: )
For the first time in IDF history, all of its bases, some dating back
to the British Mandate, will be connected to sewage systems and modern
waste treatment centers, if the cabinet approves on Sunday a proposal
put forth by the National Infrastructures and Environmental Protection
The ministries submitted the plan for the three-year project on Wednesday.
Although the Defense Ministry and the IDF have agreed in principle to
the proposal and helped to draft it, they have demanded that its NIS
400 million cost come from sources other than the ministry’s budget,
IDF sources told The Jerusalem Post] on Wednesday night.
The plan is to connect the last 150 problematic IDF bases, some of them
in remote corners of the country, others more centrally located, to
sewage systems and waste treatment centers. The National
Infrastructures and Environmental Protection ministries argue that
money should come from the Defense Ministry’s budget.
Until now, a variety of solutions were employed. Some of the bases were
partially connected to sewage systems, at others the sewage flowed into
evaporation pools rather than more modern waste treatment facilities.
Some of the treatment was not up to current standards, allowing
potentially damaging sewage into the ground or water.
The army responded officially to the proposal by saying, “The IDF is
doing all it can to meet the standards set by the Environmental
Protection Ministry regarding infrastructure on its bases. The IDF is
acting in full cooperation with the ministry to determine the treatment
priorities. It is important to note that 40 percent of the IDF’s camps
and installations are based on infrastructure from the British Mandate,
with all of the issues which that entails.
“Over the last several years, many of the air force, navy and ground
forces bases have been connected to regional water treatment
facilities, at a cost of tens of millions of shekels. The IDF will
continue to strenuously improve and streamline the treatment of this
The proposal submitted on Wednesday cited the health and environmental
risks that would be eliminated by proper sewage treatment. Another
benefit would be more reclaimed sewage water for agricultural use, the
The savings to the state coffers would also be substantial, because
there would no longer be a need to treat new environmental damage, the
explanation that was included in the proposal read.
An interministerial committee, which included representatives of all
the relevant ministries including the Defense Ministry and the IDF,
drew up the plan over the course of the past year, in the wake of a
State Comptroller Report from 2004 that cited the lack of proper sewage
treatment at IDF bases as a major health and environmental hazard.
However, IDF sources essentially said that without outside funding,
while more bases would be connected each year, it would not be able to
connect all 150 bases to the regional sewage systems within three
years. The source said that the army had decided it was a higher
priority to spend more money cleaning up its gas stations to prevent
ground pollution, and that’s where the big money had been budgeted.
However, some of the bases could very well be abandoned when the IDF
moves a large part of its operations to new bases in the Negev. In
addition, a new sewage recycling treatment technology was being tested
at the Amichai base in the South. If successful, it could turn out to
be a good solution for the remote bases, the source added.
Some of the bases to be connected in the next year include Ramat David,
Palmahim, Ben-Gurion Airport, Julis, Beit Lid and Sde Dov.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan was blunt in the letter
he sent to cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser along with the proposal.
“It cannot be that mayors and factory managers are investigated and
prosecuted for polluting the environment and the water sources, while
at the same time the state does not do all that it can to prevent the
grievous pollution caused by these IDF bases,” Erdan wrote. •