The 32-kilometer long Alexander River flows through agricultural land in the northern part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Two central problems have plagued the river for years: pollution from a variety of domestic, agricultural and industrial sources and development pressures in the open space surrounding the river which threaten its potential for leisure and recreation uses. Some 70 sources of pollution are discharged into the Nablus Stream flowing through the Palestinian Authority into the Alexander River. Another 25 different pollution sources plague the river from the Israeli side.
With the establishment of a river administration and a planning team in 1995, the beginnings of progress were made. A masterplan for the river has been approved which calls for the preservation of a strip of open space along the river and proposes a variety of measures aimed at rehabilitating, conserving and developing the polluted river. They relate to conservation and development options along the river, to monitoring requirements and to the establishment of micro reserves along the riverside which will serve as shelters for fauna and flora especially during times of intensive tourism. Special attention is granted to the Nile soft-shell turtle (Trionyx triunguis) and to the preservation of its breeding sites along the river. With the exception of the Alexander River, this protected rare species has all but disappeared from Israel's coastline. The ultimate success of the rehabilitation scheme will be dependent on the success of sewage treatment. Netanya's sewage treatment plant, inaugurated in 1996, and plans for effluent treatment and disposal facilities in industrial plants in the Emek Hefer region should bring about the expected improvements.
To stop the discharge of pollution from the Palestinian Authority, an emergency solution was implemented in 2002 until such time that a joint treatment plant, which will treat wastewater from both the Palestinian side and the Israeli side, can be established. In the first stage, the polluted water is pumped from the stream, undergoes extensive treatment and is returned to the same placeóbut in much better quality.
A demonstration project that involves scenic, ecological and drainage restoration along a 750-meter stretch of the river was launched in 1999. It features a park, picturesque walking paths, lush vegetation, and the first hanging steel bridge in Israel, to enable public access and viewing.