Cleaning up the Kidron/El Nar Valley

The strong smell and increased mosquito population afflict permanent residents as well as visiting tourists.

By MIMI KAPLAN / MILKEN INNOVATION CENTER JERUSALEM INSTITUTE FOR POLICY RESEARCH
November 25, 2016 11:59
2 minute read.
Kidron Valley

The Kidron Valley – a centralized wastewater treatment plant is financially feasible. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Extending 32 kilometers from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, the Kidron/El Nar Valley is a site of scriptural resonance, great natural beauty, and an annual flow of 15 million cubic meters of untreated wastewater from the region, including about one-third of the municipality of Jerusalem. The strong smell and increased mosquito population afflict permanent residents as well as visiting tourists. If plants are irrigated with the untreated wastewater, their consumption can cause digestive health problems. In addition, if farmers are not able to water their crops because of the poor quality of the water, they will lose their livelihoods.

There have been various capital-intensive, regional proposals for a centralized wastewater treatment plant in the valley for the past 15 years. These proposals are technically possible and financially feasible, but they have been delayed, canceled or ignored for a variety of political reasons. One solution now being explored is a small-scale, decentralized, low-tech constructed wetlands plant that separates out the solids, and purifies the water anaerobically (without oxygen) and aerobically (with oxygen). This system’s name comes from its replication of the mechanism by which natural wetlands purify water. It can bring the wastewater to a level that can be used for non-edible plants and edible plants that require cooking in their preparation.

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