Israelis Warned Not To Drink Tap Water : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Israelis Warned Not to Drink Tap Water By Associated Press, 2001/07/09, Copyright, Fair Use for Educational and Research Purposes Only

JERUSALEM -- Two million Israelis in the Tel Aviv area received a stern warning Monday -- don't drink the water.

Breaking into a prime-time TV newscast with the sudden announcement, the Health Ministry said the water had turned murky, and boiling it would not purify it. Therefore, officials said, people should not drink tap water until further notice.

Dr. Alex Leventhal, head of the ministry's public health service, said the ban was a precaution. He told Israel television that the source of the discoloration was unknown, and it was not certain that it was dangerous to health.

Asked if it might have been an attempt by militants to poison the water supply, Leventhal said, "In my humble professional opinion it's impossible to sabotage the water over such a wide area. It's something to do with the water itself and the management of the water."

This comes as Israel faces one of its worst water shortages because of a three-year drought. The Sea of Galilee, Israel's main freshwater reservoir, is far below what scientists regard as the danger level, and the coastal aquifer is fast becoming polluted with sea water.

-- Robert Riggs (, July 09, 2001


From the GICC archives

Tuesday, July 25, 2000 Tel Aviv area water sources severely polluted, survey finds By Zafrir Rinat Ha'aretz Correspondent

A Health Ministry survey of potable water sources has discovered irreversible damage to the groundwater sources of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

The survey found a general water-quality problem that affects almost all the groundwater in the district.

In the wake of the survey, five drill sites have been shut down and three more are in the process of being terminated.

The survey, which began last year and continued until very recently, examined 105 of the 122 sources that supply drinking water to Tel Aviv and most of the surrounding towns, as well as to Ramat Hasharon and Kfar Shmaryahu.

The purpose of the survey was to find possible concentrations of organic micropollutants. These materials, usually found in low concentrations, have their source mainly in pesticides, industrial waste and organic solvents.

The tests showed organic pollutants at various levels in 88 percent of the drill sites. A particularly serious finding was that at one- third of these sites, concentrations were found at the maximum level permitted, though they had not yet exceeded it.

Only 17 percent of the water sources were found to be totally free of microorganisms.

The water examined comes in part from the springs at Rosh Ha'ayin and in part directly from the coastal aquifer. The findings reinforce the impression that Tel Aviv has had a serious water problem for years.

According to the ministry, 34 drill sites have been shut down in the Tel Aviv region in the past 15 years - 15 because of salinity and 16 others because of the presence of toxic materials or fertilizers. Most of the sites shut down in the past year were in Givatayim and Ramat Hasharon, though there were also some in Bat Yam.

The Tel Aviv survey is part of a countrywide survey which the ministry is conducting in preparation for the introduction of stricter standards of water quality.

Some materials found in the Tel Aviv water sources are carcinogenic or can damage the nervous and digestive systems.

Valery Pohoryles, the environmental engineer for the Health Ministry's Tel Aviv district, wrote in the survey: "We have warned many times that the use of the coastal aquifer in this district is problematic because of its location beneath a crowded urban area that contains many sources of pollutants - a situation that does not exist in developed countries."

Pohoryles said that home consumers receive water fit for drinking, as every source that exceeds the pollution level is shut down. However, she doubted whether it would be possible to improve the aquifer by cleansing or by preventing the penetration of additional pollutants. Such measures, she said, will not remove the pollution within a reasonable time

Bad water

-- Martin Thompson (, July 10, 2001.

<< boiling it would not purify it >>

Boiling water *adequately* will kill the usual pathogens of concern (bacteria, viruses, and parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium) but of course boiling won't eliminate turbidity (cloudiness) and won't help with metals and most toxins. Makes one wonder what the actual problem is. Or perhaps they just don't know yet.

2 million people is a large population to supply via outside sources (tanker trucks, bottled water, etc). Good find from the archives! It makes one worry that this current problem will not be easy to solve by, say, using existing filtration and chlorination plants.

This is quite a story and I hope we learn more. I'll cross-post anything useful that may appear on PROMED.

Anyone reading GICC from Israel? It would be interesting to hear how you are coping!

-- Andre Weltman (, July 10, 2001.

I consider the world water problems much more serious than even the energy crisis. If anyone just scrolled thru the Water and sewer, World water crisis categories it would probably scare the hell out of you.

-- Martin Thompson (, July 10, 2001.

Could it be a repair gone bad, awhile bad some workers crossed the sewer line with the fresh water feed. YUCK!

-- (, July 10, 2001.

See a separate thread announcing the cause of the problem as fertilizer contamination. The claim is now made that the water is now safe.

-- Andre Weltman (, July 11, 2001.

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