In an attempt to keep the stream in Nahal Betzet from drying up, a pipe will be attached to several sections which may also reduce the use of groundwater, restoring flow to springs in the area
Zafrir Rinat | Jan. 2, 2019 | 12:36 AM

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has begun introducing water into Nahal Betzet, in the Upper Galilee, in an attempt to keep the stream from drying up and to save the plane trees growing along its banks. This is being done by means of a pipe that was attached to several extremely desiccated sections of the stream.

In the past, 120 cubic meters of water flowed through the stream every hour, making the surrounding nature reserve one of the more important ones in the Galilee.

Thanks to the constant flow of water, Oriental plane trees (also known as Old World sycamores) grew along the stream, becoming the source of the stream’s renown.

Thirty years ago, the Mekorot water company increased its drawing of groundwater in the area, for the benefit of nearby communities. This decreased the water flow to the spring, which serves as the stream’s headwaters. In 2001, all flow ceased, barely resuming in later years.

To address this, the Water Authority laid a pipe from a nearby drilling site to the stream, supplying half of the previous flow. The water soaked into the ground within 300 meters, not reaching pools and trees which had previously been the park’s main feature. The situation deteriorated in 2017, with three of the trees dying.

A new pipe was laid, running underground so as not to disturb the scenery. This pipe supplies water directly to the pools and to trees along the banks. Pumping water through the old pipe was terminated.

Hillel Glazman, the head of the streams monitoring department at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority official, hopes the spring will resume providing water to the stream. This may happen after a large desalination plant is built in the western Galilee. It is expected to be operational within four to five, providing 200 million cubic meters of freshwater a year. This will reduce the use of groundwater, which may restore the flow to springs in the area.