By Zafrir Rinat

Barring any last-minute delays, within months the Yarkon will become the first of Israel’s polluted coastal rivers to meet water quality standards.

Two purification projects are close to completion and will pour treated wastewater into the Yarkon.

Though the injected water will meet quality standards, it will take time for the river to become completely clean due to accumulated pollution in the riverbed.

“This summer we will implement the Yarkon salvation project,” Tel Aviv mayor and Yarkon River Authority chair Ron Huldai said this week, commenting on a Yarkon rehabilitation project approved by the state seven years ago.

“In the coming days, we will complete the project to improve the quality of water from the Kfar Saba-Hod Hasharon facility as well as the ‘green basins,’ where the wastewater will undergo further treatment.”

The Kfar Sava-Hod Hasharon facility will, in a matter of months, be able to remove pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorous, and water will be purified without the use of chlorine,” noted David Pargament, Yarkon Authority director.

“This is the river’s main source, and it will be dispensing water that meets quality standards.”

Work on the green basins on the outskirts of Hod Hasharon was ongoing this week. The NIS 30 million, three-pool project was financed by the state and the Australian branch of the Jewish National Fund.

“The treated water will flow into these pools, where the plant life encourage the development of bacteria that dismantle pollution and remove remnants of pesticides, medications, ammonia, coloring agents and other pollutants,” Pargament explained.

“After the basins, the clean water will reenter the river. We also hope heavy rainwater will help cleanse the riverbed.”

Right now, there is one section – the easternmost stretch – of the Yarkon, where the water is of clean quality.

The rest of the river contains treated wastewater, still utilized for agriculture, which results in the river not getting the entire necessary quantity of water.

“The third stage of the river rehabilitation plan will be ensure that all the treated water is dispensed into the river and only pumped out downstream for farm use,” Huldai stated. “That could take another two to three years.”

Pargament said that one indicator of success of the project will be the fate of the bleak (Acanthobrama televiensis), a fish unique to the Yarkon.

“Today, the fish does not survive beyond the eastern stretch due to the pollution, mostly ammonia in the treated water. We believe that after the treated wastewater passes through the green basins, the bleak will be able to live in the entire river.”