Stream to nowhere: The Poleg stops short of the sea during summer months
Flowing with our series of Israel’s coastal rivers and streams –– which has included the Kishon River, the Alexander and Yarkon rivers –– we travel to Poleg Stream (or Nahal Poleg), a small stream located by the coastal city of Netanya, 30 km north of Tel Aviv.
Originating also in the West Bank, the Poleg Stream is now in the process of being turned into a nature reserve, the Poleg Stream Estuary. It runs between the Wingate Sports Institute and one of the City of Netanya’s most upscale neighborhoods Ramat Poleg.Until recently, the stream was extremely pollutedand still has a long way to go before being considered to be a truly living stream again – as anyone living in the area can testify.
The stream only flows into the Mediterranean during the winter rainy months, when there is enough fresh water flowing through it to enable the water to reach the sea. During heavy rain storms, the stream also carries large amounts of debris and rubbish from destinations upstream, including citrus orchards from area industries and settlements, as well as pollution from Arab cites on the West Bank.The ecological management of the stream is under the care of Nissim Almog, managing director of the Alexander River Rehabilitation Administration which also deals with other area streams including Nahal Tenanim (Crocodile River), and the Hadera River.
“Nahal Poleg’s overall ecological situation has very much improved although it still receives a lot of sewage and other wastes from the West Bank,” he says. “There are also occasional ‘breaks’ in the industrial waste disposal systems of local industries such as that which occurred at the Abir Brewery in Ramat Poleg, when their system broke down and a lot of their wastes reached the Poleg stream via a smaller tributary, Nahal Udim.”
He added that a safe-guard system has now been constructed into the Udim Stream to prevent any future such occurrences from channeling wastes into Nahal Poleg.
The Poleg Stream Estuary is a nesting spot for green and loggerhead sea turtles, which come there during the nesting season to lay their eggs.
Schools of grey mullet also go upstream during the winter to spawn when the stream flows into the sea. The picture left, shows when it doesn’t. (Via Zalul)
The Netanya Municipality has plans to turn the area of the estuary into a marina and hotel resort area. Environmental groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Greenpeace (locally) have been fighting this move, however; and presently these plans have been put on hold. The question is, for how long until the building contractors finally get their way?
“The rehabilitation of Nahal Poleg involves a cost of nearly NIS 30 million (about $8 million USD), of which very little has come from the Government ministries, who prefer to use available funds to maintain and repair roads and other facilities in the Negev, due to occasional heavy rains there,” Nissim Almog added.
Perhaps the largest potential waterway rehabilitation project yet to come will the one involving the Lower Jordan River, which was the subject of an earlier article last May. The river is dying and rehabilitating it could improve other local problems, such as peace processes and bringing life back to the Dead Sea. In the meantime, streams like the Poleg will hopefully continue to improve their ecological quality.
Read more on Israel’s streams and rivers: