Zafrir Rinat Feb 07, 2019

The Environmental Protection Ministry has issued guidelines that could lead to the resumption of boating in various coastal-area streams that are being rehabilitated.

The ministry had received inquiries from Ashdod and Hadera, as well as from the Western Galilee Drainage and Streams Authority regarding the Na’aman Stream. As a result of these inquiries, the ministry issued a policy paper that includes guidelines for local authorities and stream authorities regarding what must be done to permit boating in the streams.

The Ashdod Municipality made an inquiry regarding boating in the Lachish Stream, particular in the section that runs near Lachish Park, while Hadera inquired about boating in lower Hadera Stream, which is also near a local park. There was also a request received from a nonprofit association working with disabled children that operates in the Sharon area, which is interested in boating near the estuary of the Alexander Stream.

Each stream has different characteristics deriving from its unique geography and ecological conditions, and therefore it wasn’t possible to make some uniform arrangement; instead, boating must be approved for each specific stream. According to the ministry document, for a local authority or stream authority (which is a partnership of several small local authorities) to obtain a boating permit, it must define exactly which sections of the stream it wants to use. It must also cite the expected volume of activity in the stream and the type of boats to be allowed.

After that, the applicant must provide an ecological assessment describing the state of the stream in question and what the impact of boating might be. The city or authority will also be required issue guidelines for when boating may have to be halted due to pollution in the stream or harm done to flora and fauna.

As for the health aspects, the ministry will require regular water quality inspections in accordance with the principles established for the Yarkon River. This examination must verify that there is no deviation from the bacteria levels in the water permitted by the Health Ministry. It will also be necessary to do other tests, like for industrial pollution.
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“I’m pleased by this document, which could help us advance boating activity,” said Shifra Ben David, director of the Western Galilee Drainage and Streams Authority, which is responsible for the Na’aman Stream, among others. “I plan to make it possible for boating activities to take place at the estuary of the Na’aman Stream, near Acre. It’s a section whose water quality is likely to be suitable, and it’s the only strong stream in the area.”

Today boating is permitted in the Jordan River until Lake Kinneret and in the streams that flow into the river. Boating is also permitted in the Yarkon River until the historic Seven Mills site. When conditions in the Yarkon River don’t permit boating, the river authority posts red flags. There are a few streams, including the Kishon Stream, where people go boating without an official permit.

The Environment Ministry believes that the Hadera and Lachish streams could be suitable for boating, but less so in the winter, when sewage flows into the streams from wastewater treatment plants that overflow. The Alexander Stream is still not suitable for boating because of ongoing pollution from wastewater coming from the Palestinian Authority.