Drinking water sources in Israel are safe, but the water from wells and other sources can be contaminated with pathogens, the country’s health ministry said on Tuesday.
Drinking water sources, including wells and water treatment plants, are not safe, Health Ministry director-general Yaakov Korsner said.
There is a danger of contamination from drinking water sources and there are risks in treating wastewater from wells.
Korsner’s comments come after a study published in the Israel Medical Journal found that the contamination from untreated water wells was linked to more than 30,000 cases of respiratory infections.
A survey of Israeli hospitals found that of the patients who were hospitalized with acute water-borne illnesses, 13.5 percent tested positive for the bacteria MRSA and 5.7 percent tested negative.
The bacteria can cause severe respiratory infections and can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Kansner said the ministry is working to increase the water levels in Israel’s water system and provide safe drinking water.
He noted that the ministry had been working with the industry and other partners to increase water-level monitoring in the country and to reduce the amount of waste generated by wastewater treatment plants.
“I hope that by next year we will have the results of the water level measurements in the water system,” he said.
The ministry has launched a website, www.health.gov.il, that has an interactive map that shows the amount and location of water sources used by the country.
Konsner also announced that the health ministry has started an initiative to develop a national strategy to tackle waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea, and prevent them from spreading.
“The health ministry is launching a new initiative to provide national strategies for the prevention of waterborne illnesses and to improve water quality,” Korsson said.
The ministry is also launching a national health education program, aimed at educating the public about the importance of drinking water and sanitation, and also for public health workers.
The government plans to distribute free water filters for everyone over 18 years old in schools and hospitals and is working on implementing free water testing for people aged 20 to 35, he added.