1,000 protest a planned desalination plant in northern Israel

The protestors are fighting against the decision to build the desalination plant in the middle of agricultural land and near residential areas and housing for soldiers.

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July 30, 2019 11:21
2 minute read.
Brine water flows into the Mediterranean Sea after passing through a desalination plant in Hadera

Brine water flows into the Mediterranean Sea after passing through a desalination plant in the coastal city of Hadera. (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)

1,000 residents of Acre and the Mateh Asher regional council protested on Thursday against the decision to build a desalination plant in the area, according to Channel 13.

Heavy traffic was reported as protestors blocked the Lohamei HaGeta'ot junction.
The protestors are fighting against the decision to build the desalination plant in the middle of agricultural land and near residential areas and housing for soldiers. According to design principles, these types of plants are supposed to be built in industrial areas or in their own area.

 


"We're talking about a planning and environmental folly that will severely compromise the security and quality of life of IDF soldiers and residents, agriculture, the unique coastal and marine environment and tourism," said the protestors.


The protestors are not completely against building the desalination plant in the area. They are protesting that the location of the plant was chosen without even considering other options.


Examinations found no difference between the water quality in areas near the plants and areas located far away from such plants. Experts say that there is no prevention of raw water pumping in the Gulf of Acre area.


The Mateh Asher Regional Council is leading the protest against the development of the desalination plant which has already been delayed for a decade.


"For a long time, residents of the western Galilee together with the management of the regional council have tried to penetrate the sealed walls of the country's planning officials regarding the location of the facility," said the regional council in a message, according to Channel 13. "The plan was made in opposition to explicit design principles, the positions of desalination experts in Israel and healthy logic."


Residents have protested against the development of the desalination plant since 2016 when the plan was in its early planning stages. 


Two potential locations between Acre and Nahariya were chosen by an expert committee from the Interior Ministry, made up of officials from the Health Ministry, Environmental Protection Ministry, Defense Ministry, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Society For the Protection of Nature in Israel. The committee also heard opposition from residents from the area of the proposed facility and all of them agreed that the plant is needed (though again opposed the location close to their communities).


One potential location would be south of Regba, while the other option would be east of Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.


In 2016, former Yesh Atid MK Haim Yellin called the planned facility's placement a “serious mistake” for the water market. “It's an absurd plan that will cause intense harm to this rapidly-disappearing pastoral area,” which he said also serves as a draw for tourists.


The Interior Ministry's committee had investigated 20 alternative locations over the span of eight years before narrowing it down to the two aforementioned sites. Furthermore, the plant is planned to be built 3.5 km. away from the sea in order to preserve the beach and coastal area.


The planned desalination plant is expected to be the largest one in Israel, and will take up about 49 acres (200 dunam). A 4 km (about 2.5 miles) long pipeline layout will also be required to transfer water from sea and then return the drainage residue to the Shavei Zion marine reserve.


Michelle Malka Grossman contributed to this report.


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