Over the years, huge amounts of raw sewage from southeast Jerusalem and Palestinian communities has been channeled directly into the Dead Sea from the Kidron Valley. Repeated arguments between the various authorities in Israel and the lack of cooperation with the Palestinians led to an increase in pollution levels, reaching 36,000 cubic meters of sewage that flowed through the stream every day.
Over the years, a solution has been formulated according to which the sewage will not be discharged into the river but into a wide pipe and through it to a central wastewater treatment facility. The problem was that the pipeline was supposed to pass through Palestinian areas as well, so it made the plan difficult to implement.
Attempts to find other solutions have failed time after time due to disputes between the various authorities; the Water Authority, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the regional councils and the Jerusalem Municipality. The recent State Comptroller's report also states that this is an ongoing failure that causes considerable environmental damage.
In recent days there has been a breakthrough. After many discussions, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, succeeded in reaching agreements with the Palestinians so pipeline would be able to pass through their territory, and they are also supposed to finance their share of it.
According to the plan, Israel will build a pipeline in its territory and the Palestinian Authority will build a pipeline in its territory—and both pipes will be connected. The sewage will be piped instead of in the stream to the Almog area, where it will be treated at a wastewater treatment facility that is already operating there but will be significantly expanded in the future. The Palestinians also plan to build two new sewage treatment plants.
Planning officials in Israel say that if the Palestinians do indeed agree to the initiative, it will be possible to solve the severe pollution problem.
The Kidron Valley begins in the Old City of Jerusalem, descends through the Judean Desert and flows into the Dead Sea in the Kalia region. It is one of the most beautiful streams that flow across the desert. When it was still possible to walk there without suffering from the terrible stench and various other ailments, it was possible to enjoy the impressive canyons, cliffs and breathtaking desert scenery.
(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)