It was about eight years ago and I just decided to live in Israel when one of my hippy friends, Tara Hart, emailed me about a program she had recently seen on TV- how the garbage mountain created in the center of Israel near the Ben Gurion Airport was posing to be a great danger to airplanes. That's because birds scavenging for food were getting caught in propellers, wrecking all sorts of damage to large metal flying structures that wingless humans use for transportation. Since then, the garbage mountain, affectionately known by locals as Hiriya (a play on words in Hebrew that literally means "Sh*t Mountain") has ceased to become operational. The government is taking action to clean the mountain up and turn it into part of the central park system that extends along the Yarkon River to the sea. To ensure water runoff and nearby streams stay clean, decision-makers have opted to use the biological waste purification method, which according to Ha'aretz, is a science that has been developing all over the world for many years now. Yael Cohen, owner of Ofra Aquatic Plants in Israel, says Europeans began to test the method of using plants to clean pollutants, as early as 50 years ago and by the mid-1980s it had become a recognized and applied method in many countries.
According to Cohen, seven percent of the urban sewage in the United States is treated by this method and the complex rehabilitation methods came to Israel only recently.
"The trick is to create 'winning' combinations of plants," explains Cohen, "each plant has a different bacterial environment and breaks down a different pollutant. The system has to be constructed according to the wastes in a given location," she says, adding that "now it is necessary to break through a psychological barrier in Israel. It's still hard to understand that something can work without chemistry and electronics."