150 IDF bases to finally be connected to sewage systems

For the first time in IDF history, all of its bases, some dating back to the British Mandate, will be connected.

By BY EHUD ZION WALDOKS
February 11, 2010 04:42
3 minute read.
150 IDF bases to finally be connected to sewage systems

base 88. (photo credit: )

 
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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 ministries.

The ministries submitted the plan for the three-year project on Wednesday.

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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 issue.”

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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 proposal elaborated.

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.     •

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