Both Water Authority head Prof. Uri Shani and Mekorot CEO Ido Rosolio confirmed
to The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the emergency plan they expect to present
to the cabinet this Sunday will include a mixture of tried and true methods
rather than any completely new solutions.
They declined to discuss the
plan in detail before it is presented.
“There are no magic solutions,”
Rosolio said after the inauguration of the Knesset Lobby to Ensure Water for
Israel headed by Kadima MK Yoel Hasson.
“We’re talking about more
drilling, more desalination,” he told the Post
. Regarding finding land for
reservoirs in the center of the country to store the desalinated water – an
issue which the Post has discussed in depth with him in the past – he said there
was a little progress, but not much.
“The plan will be a mixture of
solutions,” Shani told the Post
, but did not indicate there would be any
The plan is meant to cover the gap until all the
desalination plants are up and running and the water supply begins to
This could be Shani’s last appearance before the cabinet as he
finishes up four years in the position in January. A search committee has been
set up to find a replacement, although there remains a possibility that a
temporary head from within the authority will serve for a few months until the
committee finishes interviewing candidates and presenting their recommendations
to the national infrastructures minister, sources told the Post.
formed the new lobby to ensure that water management policy was being developed
for the long term. A respectable number of MKs from across the political
spectrum put in an appearance and pledged to raise the water issue in the
committees on which they sit such as Foreign Affairs and Defense and Economic
At the launch of the lobby, Shani described an
increasing downward trend in precipitation over the years.
“When I was
studying water resources at university in 1974, the commonly quoted number was
1.5 billion cubic meters of water from natural sources per year available to
Israel. When I entered the Water Authority, I had that number checked and
discovered it had not been accurate for a number of years. Lately, that number
has shrunk to 1.17b. cubic meters per year.
“This year, we are looking at
just 800 or 900 million cubic meters. That means there’s over 400m. cubic meters
missing between the estimates and the reality,” Shani said.
predictions for rainfall, if, as the authority expects, rainfall only reaches
50-60 percent of the average, that will lead to the need to uproot grove and
orchards and to let gardens and parks dry out, Shani warned.
also described a downward trend in water usage per person.
“From 2000 to
2006, the average amount of water used per person was 105 cubic meters a year.
With the rise in the standard of living in 2007, that number jumped to 108. In
the first half of 2008, it reached 110. However, the public has done a really
remarkable job at reducing its water use. Today, the number is 88 cubic meters
per person per year and we hope to bring that even lower next year,” he
Shani attributed the rallying of the public to two factors: First,
the public realized there isn’t any water. Two, he said, whether we like it or
not, raising the price of water has caused people to think twice about using a
lot of it.
Mekorot’s Rosolio pointed out the energy cost of the
“Right now, Mekorot uses 6% of the electricity
generated by the Israel Electric Corporation.
With the addition of the
desalination plants, that will rise to 9-10%,” he said.
infrastructure is the most expensive basic service, he said. It is twice as
resource intensive as electricity and three times as expensive as gas or
The Knesset lobby also invited the participants of
Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Good Water Neighbors program to come and talk
to MKs about the program. The initiative pairs communities on either side of the
Green Line to work on water issues together.
Tamar Greidinger of Tsur
Hadassah, just outside Jerusalem, explained to the Post the nature of the
relationship with the nearby Wadi Fukin community.
“We support the
residents of the village in their struggles with the institutions of the
establishment. They don’t have the knowledge to act, when, for instance, the
Beitar municipality lets sewage flow into their village. So we go talk to the
“Their spring is drying out because of the massive building
in the area,” she claimed, “we want to take our model of friendly ties and
multiply it across the country and reach a point of joint management of water
resources,” Greidinger said. She is the Jerusalem educational programs manager
for the Adams Institute for Democracy and Peace and the longest running
participant in the program with seven years of volunteering under her belt.