Jewish Ozzies' Inter.Net
The electronic voice of the Australian Jewish Community
Jerusalem Post - 4th September 2003
Nahal Alexander cleanup project wins international prize.
by Stuart Winer
The Nahal Alexander cleanup project won first prize in the Riverprize environmental rehabilitation competition in Australia, said Emek Hefer Regional Council spokesman Haim Alterman on Wednesday.
Local authorities from around the world took part in the international competition, held as part of the River Festival in the northern Australian city of Brisbane.
Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison presented Emek Hefer Mayor Nahum Itzkovitz with a first prize cheque of A$100,000 (US$65,000).
The Environment Ministry, the Jewish National Fund, the Emek Hefer Regional Council, the Ministry of National Infrastructure, and more than 15 other bodies spent more than NIS 50 million rehabilitating the river over the past eight years.
Among the projects to clean up the river is a water purification plant that processes all of the water flowing from Nahal Shechem into Nahal Alexander to clean them of pollutants. Alterman said that Nahal Shechem, a tributary of Nahal Alexander which is severely polluted by the processed olive and stonework industries in Nablus and Tulkarm, was the main source of pollution in Nahal Alexander. "In 1995 it was in terrible condition," Alterman said. "There were many sources of pollution from factories in the Emek Hefer region as well, but most came from Nahal Shechem." At the time, raw sewage from the community of Kfar Yona also ran straight into Nahal Alexander.
Today the community diverts its sewage to a sewage processing plant. "We went from one source of pollution to another," Alterman said. In 1996 negotiations began with the Palestinian Authority to initiate a series of projects aimed at preventing raw sewage and industrial waste flowing into Nahal Shechem.
A German bank pledged $50m. to fund the project, however talks broke down after the surge in violence in September 2000 and the German bank backed out.
"The water purification plant is an 'emergency solution,'" said Alterman and added that the Emek Hefer Regional Council recently opened talks once again with the PA.
The River Festival is held annually in Australia and brings together river experts and local authorities from around the world to discuss river management and ecology.