06/25/2012 03:50
Tender involves excavating contaminated bottom layer of riverbed and then purifying the contents.

Cleaning the murky mud of what was once the nation’s most polluted riverbed is now up for international auction, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Sunday.

As part of a three-year Kishon River cleaning project being overseen by the joint forces of the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Kishon River Authority and the Kishon Drainage Authority, the organizations involved published an international tender on Saturday in The Economist magazine calling for the excavation and cleaning of the river’s floor. The tender, which was also published in the Israeli press on Sunday, involves excavating the entire contaminated bottom layer of the riverbed that accumulated over the course of decades, and then purifying the contents, the ministry said.

Excavation will be occurring over a length of seven kilometers and a depth of two-and-a-half meters, with workers sucking the contaminated sediments into a sealed pipe that will relay the materials to a special site for biological treatment delivered in an eco-friendly manner, according to the ministry. After the treatment, the soil will be carefully monitored to ensure it is indeed free of pollutants before it is returned to the Kishon region to be used as soil for a future metropolitan park.

This will be the first time that the Jezreel Valley’s Kishon River will have faced such a rigorous cleaning since the 1930s, the ministry said.

The weekend’s international tender follows another bid for the Kishon River published last week, which involves earthworks, as well as sealing and diverting the current path of the stream.

Prior to publishing the two bids, the organizations arranged an informational conference open to the public in the presence of Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who detailed the procedures to the community, according to the ministry.

The Kishon River Authority emphasized that the newest tender was part of an expansive, advanced rehabilitation process for the stream. “The floor-cleaning project of the Kishon from pollution is part of the process, which also includes a stoppage and treatment of pollution sources, a supply of water to the stream, conservation and restoration of habitats along the stream and the establishment of parks and river trails – subjects that the Kishon River Authority promotes,” the authority said in a statement.

The Kishon River was once considered the most polluted river in Israel, but through advanced rehabilitation processes in recent years, the body of water has seen the return of fish, river turtles, birds and rare plants, the ministry said. The stream’s dangerously high pollution levels were attributed to nearby chemical plants, and beginning about a decade ago, doctors discovered an unusually high presence of cancer in IDF veterans that had trained in the river.

“This is a historical project after whose conclusion the public can enjoy a clean river and an expansive park,” Erdan said. “We are repairing the injustice of the past that caused river pollution for decades.”

At the end of the process, the public will enjoy a clean and reconstructed stream that will be available for water sport activities, including boating, the ministry explained. “One of the main goals of the project is to enable the use of the stream and its waters for recreational activities, and at its completion, an ecological restoration of the treatment site will be implemented,” the Kishon Authority said.