Zalul's Protecting the Lachish River

Sea pollution closes the beaches in Bat Yam. (Credit: Zalul Environmental Association)

For a long time now, Israel’s water resources haven’t been getting the respect they deserve. Out of the 16 rivers that flow into the Mediterranean Sea, all 16 are polluted – many to the point that you wouldn’t even let your dog go swimming in them, much less your children. And that pollution? It flows into the Mediterranean Sea, where thousands of Israeli residents and tourists go year round to surf, play, and work on their tans. Water pollution in Israel is not only a danger to river and marine life, but also a danger to public health and Israel’s economy.

Zalul Environmental Association is out to change that. “Zalul” (צלול) in Hebrew means “clear” and that is what we strive for – clean, clear water for the enjoyment of all. The battles are being fought. Legal, legislative, and public action is being taken to clean up and restore Israel’s rivers, streams, and shorelines to the greatness they once were. We want to restore these now-sewage canals back to national treasures and we’re succeeding, slowly, but surely.

Since 1999 we have been working towards our goal of clean, clear water in Israel and there is still a lot of work to be done. Our work extends all over the country, from saving the coral reefs in Eilat and fighting for the removal of the fish cages to the Lachish River in Ashdod and the Gulf of Acco and Kishon and Naaman Rivers in the north, not to mention our work nationally to stop land-based pollution from entering the Mediterranean Sea.

With the mayoral elections in Israel taking place at the end of 2008, this is a key time for environmental groups to put pressure on lawmakers to act for the environment. In our campaign to save the Lachish River Zalul has been speaking out against the inaction and poor decision making of Zvi Zilker, the mayor of Ashdod.

Zalul Environmental Association

(Dead fish float in the Lachish River after a sewage spill from the Ashdod Sewage Treatment Plant. Credit: Zalul Environmental Association)

In Ashdod, Mayor Zilker has promised time and time again that he will improve the city’s infrastructure and fix the often-malfunctioning sewage treatment plant. For the past two years Zalul has campaigned for these improvements and no progress is being made. Plans are in place, but never put into action. Finally, this week both Zalul and the Ministry of the Environment became fed up enough to sue the Ashdod Municipality. This latest move will give both Zilker and the residents of Ashdod a great deal to consider this coming election. You too can support this campaign by signing our online petition (in Hebrew) and tell Mayor Zilker “We will not say the Kaddish for the Lachish!”

For more information on Zalul and our activities, visit our website at www.zalul.org or our blog at http://zalul.wordpress.com.

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