12/16/2011 02:39

Beit She’an municipality, surrounding Emek Mayanot Regional Council owe treatment plant NIS 3 milion.
Talkbacks (7)

The wastewater treatment facility in Beit She’an may be forced to close within two weeks, causing hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of raw sewage to flow into the Jordan River, clean water advocacy group Zalul warned this week.

The Beit She’an Municipality and the surrounding Emek Mayanot Regional Council in the North together owe NIS 3 million to the operator of their waste-water treatment facility, the NGO said.

‘Israel’s rivers could take 100 years to restore’

Continued failure to pay could result in a plant shutdown, Zalul said. Demanding that government officials step in to force the municipalities to pay, the NGO asked that authorities use all administrative and legal means at their disposal to prevent the renewed flow of raw sewage into the river.

“We expect the Water Authority to be much tougher with the municipalities and do something about it,” Zalul campaign manager Dalia Tal told The Jerusalem Post. Part of the problem is that Beit She’an lacks a water corporation of its own, something that is illegal in and of itself, Tal said.

Last week, representatives of Zalul asked Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Water Authority head Alex Kushnir to intervene.

In response, Water Authority sewage infrastructure development director Moshe Garazi confirmed to the NGO that there is a serious problem in the region and that he is working with the Interior Ministry to resolve the issues.

Beit She’an owes NIS 2m. to the operator, and while Emek Mayanot has paid for continuous standard sewage treatment, the regional council owes NIS 1m. for the processing of industrial wastewater – water containing abnormal amounts of oils, fats and sodium chlorides, according to Zalul.

Meanwhile, the nearby Gilboa Regional Council, which is slated to eventually use the facility, has not yet connected or paid for access to the system, and continues to empty its sewage into the Harod Stream.

“It’s not just pollution,” Tal said. “This water would go to agriculture – so you are losing twice.”

An Environmental Protection Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday that her office had turned to Beit She’an and received a reply that the city is in its final stages of approving a recovery plan.

Under this plan, the municipality said it is supposed to receive money from the state that will be directed to the operator of the Beit She’an wastewater treatment plant.

While the city told the ministry that this would be done within a few weeks, the Environmental Protection Ministry’s northern district director asked that the Interior Ministry intervene in the matter.

Attempts by the Post to reach both the Beit She’an Municipality and the Emek Mayanot Regional Council met with no response, but Ma’ariv reported both as saying they are actively working to pay the debt and hope that the controversy will be resolved soon.