The Kishon River Goes from Sewage and Industrial Waste Canal to Nature Park in Only a Decade

kishon river rehab israelConsidered the most polluted river in Israel, the Kishon River struggles with water quality. But now, cormorants on the river can eat the fish they catch.

The Kishon River, a 75 km long stream that begins in the Western Galilee and ends when emptying into Haifa Bay at the Mediterranean Sea in Israel, was until recently considered a “dead river” according to Sharon Nissim, General Director of the Kishon River Authority. It was heavily polluted from 40 years worth of mercury, heavy metals and organic chemicals dumped by chemical plants nearby.

Besides being a receptacle for raw sewage and other wastes from villages along its banks, this “dumping ground” for industrial wastes from factories and industrial sites in the Haifa Bay Industrial area resulted in the controversy surrounding Israel Navy sea commandos. Allegedly, they contracted cancer from being exposed to the stream’s polluted waters during military exercises. But now the river is on the way to rehab. The rehabilitation of this waterway, along with others was featured last week in the Jerusalem Post by yours truly. Here are some more salient points of the article:

“The situation of the Kishon is much better now, and factories no longer dump their wastes into it,” Nissim told us. She added that after scientific investigations, it was not proven that the Kishon River’s condition was responsible for what happened to the naval commandos.

kishon river pollution 1992The Kishon River, circa 1992. Via Wikipedia

kishon riverThe Kishon River today (2010). Image via Wikipedia

“During the past ten years, the Kishon has changed from a ‘dead river’ to one where wildlife, including birds and fish are once again present there,” she said.

What used to “flow” into the Kishon

“The main issue still remaining with the Kishon’s rehabilitation is the storage of containers in lots next to the stream, with some containing chemicals which occasionally leak into the river,”said Moshe Perlmuter, Field Ranger at the Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

A nature park and river walk is currently under construction along the Kishon’s shores; and recently, a Nature Walk was sponsored by the Authority so people could see for themselves the stream’s continuing transformation into a “living river”.

Touring the Kishon

When asked how much money has been invested in rehabilitating the Kishon during the past ten years, Nissim replied:

“Millions of Shekels have been spent by the Kishon River Authority, as well as other bodies (including area industries) to improve both the quality of the river’s water; and in the construction of the River Park, which includes bicycle and walking paths.

The government provides the Authority with an annual operating budget of NIS 4 million (about US $1 million), as approved by both the Ministries of the Environment and Industry.”

In addition to the Authority’s annual operating budget, funds recently pledged or already paid for restoring and improving the river’s condition include NIS 1.5 million (about $400,000 USD) on behalf of the Jewish National Fund for construction of the River Park and fishing restoration.

And much more… The Kishon’s rehabilitation appears to have gone a long way from what it was previously in a previous Green Prophet January 2008 post. Let’s hope this waterway will continue to improve from an ecological standpoint, and form as a basis of comparison for other polluted Middle Eastern waterways.

More articles on Israel’s streams and rivers:
Unholy Waters: the Lower Jordan River is Nearly Dead
Alexander River Can be Less Polluted with Help of  Palestinian Friends
Searching for a Clean Stream in Israel or anywhere
Photos via Gil Gutman – Reshut Nahal Kishon

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One thought on “The Kishon River Goes from Sewage and Industrial Waste Canal to Nature Park in Only a Decade”

  1. Maurice Picow says:

    This is the second installment of the Israel coastal rivers articles that I’m posting from my feature piece that appeared in last Friday’s Metro magazine of the Jerusalem Post.

    The next article will deal with the Yarqon, which has an “interesting” story of its own.

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