(photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
Water prices rose by
another 5 percent on Thursday, bringing the total increase to 30% since
the beginning of the year. If the policy stays the same, prices will
rise another 1-2% by year’s end.While the consumer
may wince at the new water bill, the government has promised that if all
of the desalination plants are built on schedule, Israel will leave its
water crisis behind in three years time. Three more plants are expected
to be built by 2013. Until then, however, conservation is extremely
important, the Water Authority has warned.
The first 2.5 cubic meters of
water will now cost NIS 7.44 (before VAT) and each additional cubic
meter will cost NIS 10.755. The base price will be charged for 2.5 cubic
meters per person in a household – not for the entire household. So,
for example, a family of four will pay the base price for 10 cubic
meters of water per month, from which most people should be able to meet
their water needs, according to the Water Authority.
for the first 2.5 cubic meters rose 6.47%, while the price for cubic
meters used above the first 2.5 rose 4.43%, Water Authority spokesman
Uri Schor explained to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
dramatic rise in prices this year reflects a reform to include all of
the cost of producing water in its price. The law states that the price
of water must include all of its costs.
In essence, it reflects
Israel’s massive entry into the desalination era. Desalination plants
impose two extra costs on the consumer. First, the state must buy
desalinated water at around NIS 2 per cubic meter from the desalination
plants, as opposed to water that fell from the sky into Lake Kinneret
(the Sea of Galilee). Second, Mekorot, the national water company, must
connect the plants to the National Water Carrier system to get the water
to the consumer.
Mekorot estimates that it will cost NIS 3
billion or more to fund the massive project. In addition to the pipes
connecting the plants to the Carrier, the flow of water in the Carrier
must be altered to reflect the large amounts of fresh water arriving
from the coast instead of from Lake Kinneret.
Even after the plants
have been built, while the decade
of crisis may
come to an end, Israel will not become a land flowing with water and so
conservation will still be important.
Concerns have been raised as to the extra burden the water prices now
place on the poorer members of society.
One way to offset those costs would be for the government to arrange
additional assistance through the National Insurance Institute rather
than subsidizing the price of water itself, which is, by law, now
supposed to reflect the full cost of production. As one source pointed
out to the Post on Thursday, “If a rich man and a poor man go into the
corner store to buy milk, they both pay the same price, but the poor
man might get assistance from National Insurance [that the rich man