Sections of 22 waterways to be eco-restored along with flood prevention

Sections of more than 20 waterways will be rehabilitated in the coming years through a joint agreement by the Ministry of Environment Protection and the Ministry of Agriculture to add ecological remediation to a program for flood control of waterways.

NIS 43 million (US$12.4 million) will be spent on the restoration, out of a total project budget of NIS 108 million (US$31 million).

A team of joint professionals reviewed and ranked 61 proposals from authorities responsible for drainage and watercourse management, choosing 22 from across the country, according to a statement from the Ministry of Environmental Protection released on Sunday.

The work will include removing hazards such as trash, creating trails and recreational facilities, and involving local communities in the work and long-term protection of nearby stretches of waterways.

More than a third of the rehabilitation sum, some NIS 16 million ($4.6 million), will be concentrated on waterways in Arab communities, including the Sa’ar creek, which runs alongside the Druze city of Mas’ade on the Golan Heights and the Grar stream, which flows through the southern Israeli Bedouin city of Rahat.

Work will also be carried out on sections of the following waterways, many of which flow only in winter and early spring, and in the immediate vicinity:

Northern Israel: Foothills of the Jordan River near the Sea of ​​Galilee; the Iron Stream near kibbutz Ein Shemer; the Chison River; the East Jordan Canal, built in the 1950s to help drain the Hula Marshes; the Sa’adia creek in Haifa (where a pumping plant will be built to stop the pollution) and the Gdora creek in nearby Kiryat Bialik; the Gush Halav creek, as far as where it meets the Dishon creek; design of a footbridge along the Dalia stream near Fureidis; tributaries of the Tzippori River; the Rimonim Stream-Wadi um Humeid near Bir al-Maksur; and the Hilazon stream between Sha’ab and the Kishon Springs.

Central Israel: the Shiloh stream in the Petah Tikva industrial area; the Hadera creek from Route 2 to the Tzahal Bridge, where the works will include flood prevention for the city of Hadera; a 1.5 kilometer (just under a mile) stretch of the Yarkon River, including the release of water from Pircha Spring; the Haviva creek; and Kana creek.

A car that was swept away by floods at the Dalia creek in northern Israel on January 5, 2020, and found next to the body of the driver on January 6. (Israeli Police)

Southern Israel: The Kama Creek north of Rahat.

“The new plan we approved will lead to waterway restoration and flood prevention through nature-based solutions and the conservation of our natural systems,” said Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg.

Agriculture Minister Oded Forer added that the joint plan represents a “uniform and comprehensive response” that would allow drainage and stream authorities to strengthen the country’s resilience in the face of climate change.

The Ministry of Agriculture recently signed an agreement with the Ministry of Finance and the Israel Territory Authority to allocate an additional NIS 1.2 billion ($345 million) for 13 major drainage infrastructure projects.

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