Aquatic ecosystem near Mount Meron headed toward recovery from 30 years of contamination.
By Eli Ashkenazi | Aug. 26, 2014

For three decades, the Galilee’s Nahal Kziv has been contaminated by sewage from a village on Mount Meron. But now the effluent from Beit Jann is being directed toward a recently built sewage-treatment plant, giving the stream and nearby springs a chance to recover.

“Now the ecosystems in the stream will be restored,” said Hillel Glazman, head of the streams monitoring department at the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. “The sewage in the stream, which harmed the aquatic ecosystem for many years, was also a public health nuisance and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Creatures living in the water and its environs suffered, as did the wildlife in the Mount Meron Nature Reserve.”

The springs of Nahal Kziv and the nearby Ga’aton springs were polluted in 2006 at a level that Glazman referred to as “catastrophic.” The source of the pollution was the sewage from Beit Jann and Hurfeish, both Druze villages in the same area, which trickled into the upper part of Nahal Kziv. The pollution spread to the Western Galilee aquifer, which also feeds the springs of Ga’aton and Kabri.

About two months ago, a sewage treatment plant between Halafta Junction and Kibbutz Parod began operating to treat the sewage of Beit Jann. When the trial period ended, the stream began returning to normal, Glazman said.

“The rest of the sewage in the stream is drying up, and the stream is going back to being a seasonal stream, which it is naturally,” he said. “We hope that next winter’s rains will bring strong floods of water into the upper part of Nahal Kziv, floods that will sweep away the pollutants that accumulated there for many years.”

The sewage issue has already been through the courts, with a criminal case brought against the Beit Jann council and council head in the 1990s, but nothing was done about reaching a permanent agreement at the time, Glazman said.

“Since the village was established, the effluent trickled into the groundwater in absorption cisterns in homes,” he said. “Once the Housing Ministry established a sewage collection system in Beit Jann and a water reclamation system in its orchards in the mid-1980s, the sewage, which underwent preliminary treatment only and often no treatment at all, flowed directly into the upper part of Nahal Kziv and from it all through the Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve, since Beit Jann’s farmers would not use the reclaimed water.”