The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved an amendment on Sunday proposed by Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir to regulate drainage nationwide and prevent damages in cases of flooding.
Shamir’s amendment would comprehensively revise the 1957 Drainage Law, the Agriculture Ministry said. The amendment aims to fix a number of problems identified by the ministry, such as a low budget for drainage infrastructure treatment in local authorities and inadequate flood protection.
“The new Drainage Law is designed to bring a comprehensive and thorough solution to regulating drainage throughout the country, and to prevent damage to property and lives, prevent health and environmental hazards, protect nature, and efficiently exploit runoff in favor of the water sector,” a statement from the ministry said.
No modifications have been made to the legislation since the enactment of the law in 1957, the Agriculture Ministry said. The existing law splits powers between the agriculture minister and the Water Authority commissioner, though the government determined in 2010 the need to bring the subject under the Agriculture Ministry alone.
Built-up residential areas and other infrastructures have decreased the amount of open space in which rainwater can collect and, as a result, runoff has gradually increased the flow volume of streams, causing flooding in agriculture, the ministry explained.
Across the nation, funds have not been adequately invested in improving drainage infrastructure. While local drainage authorities include representation from municipal authorities, in many cases those local authorities have not allotted the necessary finances to these drainage bodies.
The amendment calls for a change in the composition of the national council on drainage issues, which serves to advise the agriculture minister.
The national council is composed of government officials and eight representatives of agricultural organizations – the restructured council would include local authority and drainage authority representation, the ministry said.
The Agriculture Ministry stressed that the amendment to the Drainage Law aims to “provide structural changes in various bodies to bring about more efficient and effective treatment in the regulation of drainage in Israel.”