'Vast amounts of sewage water going to waste'

Water Authority: infrastructure to handle it will be ready in near future.

eu water biz 88 224 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
eu water biz 88 224
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Millions of cubic meters of treated sewage water are being pumped into the sea rather than diverted to agriculture or gardening, Zalul, which monitors Israel's seas and waterways, charged Monday. The Herzliya waste treatment plant was upgraded in November and now produces high-quality wastewater which could be used for agriculture or gardening, but instead it flows straight into the sea, Zalul central district coordinator and lawyer Shahar Brinenberg wrote, in an urgent letter to the Water Authority. Seven million cubic meters of water per year flow through the treatment plant. "According to the Environmental Protection Ministry, the reason the treated water flows into the sea lies with the Water Authority, which has yet to find a suitable use for the water and has not yet found a reservoir in which to store it," Brinenberg wrote. On the Environmental Protection Ministry Web site, the plant is listed as having a permit to pump water into the sea through 2010. "The situation portrays the Water Authority as a body that on the one hand is working responsibly in the face of the water crisis which is plaguing Israel, but on the other hand, is not doing everything in its power to deal with the loss of a lot of water, like that which is flowing to the sea from Herzliya's waste treatment plant," he added in the letter. Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor responded that the infrastructure to handle the treated sewage water was expected to be completed in the very near future. "The State of Israel is the most advanced country in the world in reclaiming wastewater for agriculture," he said. "Between 70-75 percent of wastewater is recycled for watering and within a number of years almost all waste water will be recycled. "The next closest country in the world is Spain, which reclaims 20%," he said. "Sewage treatment plants, reservoirs and pumping stations are being planned and built regularly. The planning and erecting of each plant takes a number of years, where first the water is treated to prevent pollution while, at the same time, clients for the treated water are sought," Schor continued. "Utilizing the treated water from the Herzliya waste treatment plant is conditioned upon the laying of infrastructure to transport it northward to clients in the Rishpon region. The laying of transport infrastructure is problematic in that area and is being done as part of the project to build Road 20 and Road 531 and is expected to be completed in the near future," Schor said. Zalul had waged a public campaign to upgrade the waste treatment plant to prevent it from polluting the sea off the Herzliya and Tel Aviv coasts with poorly treated wastewater.