Buried in the Nature Park: HaShomer Street's Sewage Line
It's commonly thought that development work that calls for heavy equipment is nature's natural enemy. Ramat Handiv and the Engineering Department of Zikhron Ya'akov's Municipal Council, however, have just proven that such development can be carried out within the strict parameters of nature and environmental preservation. It is possible ‒ with the right amount of forethought and careful planning, good will and cooperation.
At the northern end of HaShomer Street in Zikhron Ya'akov lies the border of Ramat Hanadiv's Nature Park. There were sewage problems on this street for years. Both the residents and the environment suffered: Occasionally the sewage pipe would leak into Nahal Hanadiv, causing awful odours and wreaking havoc on sanitation. A new pipe was urgently needed to connect the street to the main sewage line, located west of Kibbutz Ma'ayan Zvi. Because of the pressure, Zikhron Ya'akov's Municipal Council requested that Ramat Hanadiv allow the pipe to pass through the grounds of the Nature Park. Ramat Hanadiv's answer was to try to find a solution that would work for all, one that would minimize the pipe's damage to nature while permitting the necessary development work to take place.
Before anyone touched the ground, several preliminary measures were taken to prevent damage. First, the proposed route of the pipe was studied. The examination revealed an interesting archaeological find, an ancient lime pit. After consulting with the Antiquities Authority, it was decided to divert the pipeline away from the lime pit, and the subsequent work around it was conducted with the cooperation and supervision of an archaeologist.
A serious problem that frequently crops up in the wake of earth works is the disturbance of the soil's texture, making it easy for 'foreign' plants to spread among native ones ‒ a process that can transform foreign plants into invasive ones. To forfend this, Ramat Hanadiv made good use of the information and experience accumulated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The planning and implementation of the work was limited to a ten-meter wide strip. The area was scrupulously mapped with descriptions of the non-native vegetation. With the help of the GIS programme, special attention was focused on the treatment of the soil. The upper layer was removed separately from the bedrock beneath it and set aside so it could be used to rehabilitate the landscape on completion of the work. Soil that held foreign plant matter and the seeds of invasive species was screened out; it will be returned afterwards only to the deepest level of soil, where the seeds have no chance of sprouting.
When the pipe is finally installed and operating, the rock stratum will be covered over and the soil will be rehabilitated. Species of plants and shrubs that grow in the Nature Park will be planted, among them the terebinth (Pistacia palaestina), known to be a fire barrier, and the phillyrea (Phillyrea latifolia). An emergency route, 5 meters wide and cleared of plants, will be left next to the houses. This route will primarily serve fire-fighting equipment in cases of emergency. In the future, hydrants may also be installed for the same purpose.
The earth works are already in an advanced stage. Ramat Hanadiv expects that, within a short time after the job is done, it will be nearly impossible to notice any damage to the landscape. After one or two rainy seasons, the natural vegetation will return along the length of the pipes that were buried deep in the earth. The dust will settle, greenery will once again take over the scene, and the native plants, birds, and other animals will return to the northern end of Ramat Hanadiv. For all this, we can thank the welcome cooperation between Zikhron Ya'akov's Municipal Council, the Antiquities Authority, the Israel Authority for the Protection of Nature and Parks, the contractor who carried out the work, and the staff of Ramat Hanadiv. And, of course, Mother Nature herself.