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Taken at Seven station park in Ramat Gan, a part of the Yarkon river in central Israel.

The 27-kilometer long Yarkon River, originally fed by springs which were diverted through pipes to the Tel Aviv area and the Negev, flows through Israel's most densely populated area. Before its waters were diverted in 1956, some 220 MCM of fresh water flowed in the Yarkon, supporting fish and a variety of water vegetation. Following diversion, sewage was introduced, and the natural habitat of plants and animals was destroyed.

In an effort to improve the state of the river, a Yarkon River Authority was set up in 1988. This represented the first concerted effort in Israel to provide for river rehabilitation. The authority, consisting of representatives of 19 organizations and local authorities, is responsible for cleanup, restoration and development of the river, making it suitable for leisure and recreation. Extensive efforts are invested in removing accumulated trash and debris from the river and cleaning the riverbanks. In parallel, administrative and legal measures are taken to ensure that sewage is not discharged into the river, and monitoring is carried out to follow improvement in vegetation and fish populations.

In 1996, the Israel government approved a masterplan for the Yarkon River which calls for the conservation of the river and its vicinity as the "green lung" of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. At both ends of the river, parks already exist. Upstream, the Mekorot Hayarkon (Yarkon Sources) or Petah Tikva Park, boasts historic sites, picnic grounds, fishing docks and riverbank vegetation with visitor access. Downstream, the Ganei Yehoshua or Yarkon Park serves as the "green lung" for some two million residents and visitors to the region.

The central part of the Yarkon is the most problematic. Stopping the discharge of municipal and industrial sewage to the river is a priority. The new treatment plant for Kfar Sava-Hod Hasharon, operational from 1996, and the Ramat Hasharon plant, inaugurated in 1999, put an end to the discharge of some 25,000 cubic meters of sewage a day into this river from adjacent towns.

In January 2003, the government approved a comprehensive multi-million dollar restoration plan for the Yarkon River.

The first stage of reconstructing and restoring the seven ancient windmills which once used the riverís power to grind flour has been completed and a project which uses water vegetation to purify the riverís water in the seven-station area is being implemented. The entire project will incorporate a visitor center, treatment of environmental degradation and restoration of flora and fauna in the river.

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Additional Photos by Assi Dvilanski (asival) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 110 N: 749] (5299)
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