A bill which would mandate the installation of water-saving devices on faucets in all public buildings was approved on Wednesday to come to a first reading. The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee finalized the wording on the bill, which would save an estimated 11 percent to 20% of water use in public buildings.
The bill was sponsored by MKs Yohanan Plesner (Kadima), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), committee chairman Ophir Akunis (Likud), Ze'ev Bielski (Kadima), Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), and four members of Hadash - Muhammad Barakei, Afo Agbaria, Hanna Sweid and Dov Henin. Two similar versions of the bill were combined during meetings leading up to its preliminary reading.
"Today, another step was taken to correct an
oversight which has occurred because of a failure to implement a government decision on the matter," Plesner said in a statement, "A sun-drenched day like today at the beginning of December proves and reinforces how important and necessary the law is to create a culture of water conservation."
Horowitz noted that a government decision had mandated water savers for public buildings eight years ago, but that nothing had been done.
If made into law, public buildings owned or rented for more than three years by government agencies would be required to install water savers on all the faucets. The law would apply to government ministries and their sub-units, the Knesset, the IDF, the Israel Police and Israel Prisons Service, local authorities, hospitals and others. The law would have to be implemented three months after it went into effect.
The Health Ministry said at the hearing that equipping hospitals with water savers was tricky because some of the devices reduce needed water pressure. They did not object to the bill, but asked that the correct water savers be installed in hospitals to prevent drops in water pressure.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI)'s Water Coordinator Moshe Perlmutter called water savers a cheap and effective way to save water. He also noted that equipping public buildings with water savers was a good example for the public. SPNI helped draft the bill put forward by Plesner.
During the committee hearing on Wednesday, Water Authority Deputy-Director for Engineering Oded Phiksler announced that water savers would also be fully distributed to private households by June. He told the committee that the tender would go out in about a month and the water savers would begin to be installed in about three months at no cost to the homeowners. The Authority's initiative is separate from the proposed bill which focuses on public buildings.
SPNI's Perlmutter said he hoped that both projects would not remain at the level of only declarations but be implemented as soon as possible.
The fine for non-compliance would reach as high as NIS 12,900.
Meanwhile, the Treasury announced that it had secured a loan of â‚¬141 million from the European Investment Bank to finance waste water reclamation infrastructure and sewage infrastructure, particularly in the periphery. The funds come as part of an agreement signed with the bank in 2006.
In a related matter, on Tuesday the Knesset Finance Committee approved a measure to freeze the drought levy for the winter as was worked out between the committee and the relevant ministries and agencies several weeks ago. The only difference in the law was a demand by committee chairman Moshe Gafni (UTJ) to insert a clause giving the Finance Committee the authority to freeze the levy for the summer months as well. The exact clause is still being drawn up.
The drought levy would have automatically gone
back into effect after the winter in the original version of the law.