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.

For the first time in IDF history, all of its bases, some dating backto the British Mandate, will be connected to sewage systems and modernwaste treatment centers, if the cabinet approves on Sunday a proposalput forth by the National Infrastructures and Environmental Protectionministries.
The ministries submitted the plan for the three-year project on Wednesday.
Although the Defense Ministry and the IDF have agreed in principle tothe proposal and helped to draft it, they have demanded that its NIS400 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 themin remote corners of the country, others more centrally located, tosewage systems and waste treatment centers. The NationalInfrastructures and Environmental Protection ministries argue thatmoney should come from the Defense Ministry’s budget.
Until now, a variety of solutions were employed. Some of the bases werepartially connected to sewage systems, at others the sewage flowed intoevaporation pools rather than more modern waste treatment facilities.Some of the treatment was not up to current standards, allowingpotentially damaging sewage into the ground or water.
The army responded officially to the proposal by saying, “The IDF isdoing all it can to meet the standards set by the EnvironmentalProtection Ministry regarding infrastructure on its bases. The IDF isacting in full cooperation with the ministry to determine the treatmentpriorities. It is important to note that 40 percent of the IDF’s campsand 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 groundforces bases have been connected to regional water treatmentfacilities, at a cost of tens of millions of shekels. The IDF willcontinue to strenuously improve and streamline the treatment of thisissue.”
The proposal submitted on Wednesday cited the health and environmentalrisks that would be eliminated by proper sewage treatment. Anotherbenefit would be more reclaimed sewage water for agricultural use, theproposal elaborated.
The savings to the state coffers would also be substantial, becausethere would no longer be a need to treat new environmental damage, theexplanation that was included in the proposal read.
An interministerial committee, which included representatives of allthe relevant ministries including the Defense Ministry and the IDF,drew up the plan over the course of the past year, in the wake of aState Comptroller Report from 2004 that cited the lack of proper sewagetreatment 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 toconnect all 150 bases to the regional sewage systems within threeyears. The source said that the army had decided it was a higherpriority to spend more money cleaning up its gas stations to preventground pollution, and that’s where the big money had been budgeted.
However, some of the bases could very well be abandoned when the IDFmoves a large part of its operations to new bases in the Negev. Inaddition, a new sewage recycling treatment technology was being testedat the Amichai base in the South. If successful, it could turn out tobe 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 letterhe sent to cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser along with the proposal.
“It cannot be that mayors and factory managers are investigated andprosecuted for polluting the environment and the water sources, whileat the same time the state does not do all that it can to prevent thegrievous pollution caused by these IDF bases,” Erdan wrote.     •