The Alexander River flows through the northern part of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The river actually crosses borders, since it flows from the Palestinian city of Nablus in the Samarian Hills up to the estuary of the Mediterranean Sea in Israel. The size of the river basin is about 136,000 acres (550 km2). Small quantities of fresh water flow along half its stretch. The fresh water is severely polluted by sewage and effluent. The river is, in effect, a small stream with big problems.
The Alexander River Restoration Administration was founded in 1995 with the aim of restoring the Alexander River, and has been working tirelessly ever since. The administration consists of about 20 public and state entities at the local, regional and national levels. The Ministry for the Environment, the Jewish National Fund, and the Emek Hefer Regional Council, have has a leading roll in the administration since the project was launched. The administration deals with planning, implementation of plans, management and maintenance of the Alexander River in relation to the river basin. The approach is comprehensive and multidisciplinary. The public is involved in all levels of activity.
The Alexander River Restoration Administration enjoys a unique collaboration with its Palestinian neighbours from the district and town of Tul Karem. They share a desire to solve the severe ecological problems posed by the polluted river. Thanks to two agreements, of a unique nature, signed by local Palestinian and Israeli leaders and pertaining to the restoration of the river, this cooperation survives through difficult times as well. The joint environmental project was already partly constructed with the assistance of the German Government. The plans for the future are large scale and comprehensive. Ecology, which knows no political borders, has become a unique bridge between people from both sides of the security fence.
In 1995, a comprehensive master plan for the whole river basin was prepared by an interdisciplinary planning team. The implementation phase began in 1998 when several projects aimed at restoring the river were initiated and constructed. They address aspects concerning the removal of pollutants, cooperation with the Palestinians, the water supply, a “Demonstration Project” (a river park to demonstrate the potential), restoration of a few sections of the river, the development of 7 parks, a pedestrian and bicycle path along the river, ecological rehabilitation, public involvement, education, drainage and flood defence, etc. A unique “Emergency Project” for the treatment of the Nablus Stream sewage was constructed as an interim solution, until the permanent purification plant is built, in cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian neighbours, with the aid of the German government. More than 13 million USD have been already invested in the Alexander River Restoration Project, managed by the Administration.
There is a broad consensus that the Alexander River Restoration Administration, with its unique characteristics, was successful in changing the attitude towards river restoration and river management in Israel. The project is considered to be the leading river restoration project in Israel, it received five important awards, among them the 2003 International Riverprize, Brisbane, Australia.