(photo credit: NESS ZIONA MUNICIPALITY)
Following weeks of incidents in which raw sewage was seeping across municipal borders, the Ness Ziona Municipality filed a police report Monday against the neighboring town of Be’er Ya’acov.
The Be’er Ya’acov sewage infrastructure has long been suffering repeated malfunctions, leading to the “massive discharge of sewage to the city of Ness Ziona,” which is situated at a topographically lower area, the city said.
Just last week, Ness Ziona drainage channels were flooded with thousands of cubic meters of wastewater from Be’er Ya’acov, according to the municipality. As a result, Ness Ziona residents have filed continuous complaints about odors impacting the city environment.
Ness Ziona and Be’er Ya’acov are located just north of Rehovot and south of Rishon Lezion, in the southern portion of central Israel.
Before filing the police complaint on Monday, Yossi Sagron, the director of Ness Ziona’s city improvement department, wrote a letter to Gidi Mazor, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s Central District manager, reiterating the gravity of the situation and accusing the ministry of neglecting Ness Ziona’s sanitation concerns. In the letter, Sagron said that the ministry was not properly responding to complaints filed by Ness Ziona regarding odors and other environmental hazards – including groundwater pollution – emanating from Be’er Ya’acov, Rishon Lezion and Rehovot.
“Keep in mind that most of the water consumption in Ness Ziona is from independent sources in local pumps and we are forced to pay for your lack of treatment,” Sagron wrote.
After receiving a response from Mazor indicating that he was summoning representatives from the surrounding cities for a clarification discussion, Sagron stressed that he was unsatisfied with what he deemed a “weak response.”
He said he therefore sent an even harsher letter to Mazor, focusing on the ongoing situation in which sewage has been leaking from Be’er Ya’acov into Ness Ziona.
The letter explained in detail that in front of the sewage pumping station in Be’er Ya’acov, there is a pit, through which wastewater from the faulty infrastructure flows into a plant bed. The sewage enters Ness Ziona through crevices among the plants, flowing next to a bus stop at the junction of Yisrael Schmidth and Margolin streets – near the eastern border of Ness Ziona, Sagron explained.
“And here is the organized city of Ness Ziona, with sewage from all directions – flowing from Rehovot on one side, and from Be’er Ya’acov on the other side,” he wrote. “How long will the groundwater of Ness Ziona be polluted and will the Environmental Protection Ministry continue to remain silent? How long will residents of Ness Ziona suffer from the odors and you will continue to talk?” Due to the fact that individual cities do not have the authority by law to take action against their neighbors, Sagron demanded that the Environment Ministry find an immediate solution to the situation.
“The Environmental Protection Ministry has revealed incompetence in dealing with these severe cases of sewage discharge that have resulted in the creation of hazardous odors,” he said. “We had no choice but to involve the police in this matter.”
In response to the situation, the Environmental Protection Ministry said that during a tour of the area last week, ministry representatives identified the sources of the wastewater leak into the Ness Ziona drainage canal. The sources, according to the ministry, were glitches in the Rehovot and Be’er Ya’acov pumping stations, which were repaired on the same day.
“Responsibility for treatment of pumping and sewage stations is of the local authorities, and the Environmental Protection Ministry will implement all modes of enforcement under its authority to ensure that the problems are taken care of and that the glitches do not recur,” a statement from the ministry said. “In addition, the Environmental Protection Ministry approved the establishment of a new pumping station in Be’er Ya’acov, which will in the coming months replace the old stations, and a program for upgrading the pumping station in Rehovot – to prevent further failures and environmental hazards to residents of Ness Ziona.”