Hundreds of thousands of residents in the Dan region,
including Tel Aviv, were told on Monday night not to drink
tap water, even after it had been boiled. The orders were
given by the Health Ministry after Mekorot reported serious
contamination. By Tuesday morning, residents of Tel Aviv and
other areas were allowed to drink boiled water, and it was
expected that restrictions would be further eased in the
course of the day.
In Bnei Brak, the city immediately transferred its water
supply to wells. In normal circumstances, the city gets
about half its water from local wells and about half its
water from Mekorot. Bnei Brak also forbade residents from
using tap water until it could be ascertained that all the
suspect water had been flushed from the system. The city set
up taps on the sidewalk that distributed well water to
Health Ministry tests on the polluted water confirmed the
original findings and, shortly after 8 p.m., warnings were
issued on both television and radio.
Tests showed cloudiness in water in the National Water
Carrier in the area. Onward flow through the carrier was
immediately shut off, so the ban on use was confined to the
areas around Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak, Givatayim,
Holon, Givat Shmuel, Petach Tikva, Yehud, and Bat Yam.
Shalom Goldberger, chief engineer in the ministry's
environmental quality department, said last night that among
the probably causes are improper use of agricultural
fertilizers or a breakdown in equipment. Ministry spokesman
Ido Hadari said no details about what had caused the
situation were available last night, but that the
instructions were issued "as a precautionary measure." It
was not forbidden to take a shower, he said.
The National Water Carrier is an open channel that brings
water from Lake Kinneret to central and southern Israel.
Dr. Alex Leventhal, head of public health services in the
ministry, said that sabotage and terrorism were ruled out,
because intentional action could not cause such a widespread
Leventhal said that the source of the discoloration was
unknown, and it was not certain that it was dangerous to
"There is no contamination in the water," Leventhal said.
"The water is cloudy, 10 times more than usual.... when you
turn on a tap, you see the color of the water is not normal.
It is not clear what the reason is, whether it is chemical
or something else, so until we know for certain, we are
asking that people in the Dan region do not drink tap
Within minutes of the announcement, Tel Aviv residents began
flocking to supermarkets and groceries to buy bottled
mineral water, quickly emptying shelves.
Mekorot opened an information hot line at (08) 927-1624.
Mekorot engineers and Health Ministry officials were working
overtime last night in efforts to trace the source of the
contamination and rectify the problem. Health Ministry
officials said the work could take eight to 10 hours or even