Drip... drip... dry; Knesset members take notice

Thousands of civilians sign SPNI pledge to save water.

erdan gilad aj 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
erdan gilad aj 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In a pledge of loyalty to the environment, thousands of civilians are reportedly becoming Trustees of Water ("Ne'emanei Mayim") in the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) to show their devotion to water conservation. Now ministers and Knesset members are doing so too. Among those who have become trustees are Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau and Minister for Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan, as well as MKs Nitzan Horowitz, Dov Khenin, and Carmel Shama. The text of the "water treaty" that the trustees sign reads: "I am joining the Na'amanei Mayim of the Society for the Protection of Nature and obligate myself to personally conserve water, to serve as an example and to pass the message on - to assist to the best of my ability the efforts to conserve water and the actions of the Ne'emanim." A SPNI statement says thousands of people have signed on in the past few weeks. Trustees commit to save water at home and to encourage local authorities to plug pipes leaking water. "In order to deal with the water crisis in Israel, we have to mobilize the public and we have to mobilize public opinion," says MK Khenin. Dov Greenblatt, spokesperson for SPNI, says that the trustees are part of a larger movement to improve awareness and increase activity among civilians regarding the present water crisis. Israel's water crisis has long been a grim reality. This year is the fifth drought in a row. Uri Schor, spokesperson for the Water Authority, says there are two approaches to the problem. "One is to try to increase sources of water and the second is to try to cut down demand." Israel recycles sewage water and desalinates sea water in attempts to feed the demand - about 750 million cubic meters per year. The country is currently first in the world in recycling, being able to salvage 70 percent of sewage water for agricultural use. The two desalination plants in the country provide for 20% of water needs - able to desalinate 140 million cubic meters per year for domestic use. Schor says that by the year 2020, Israel will be able to desalinate the full amount of its water shortfall. New desalination plants take two or three years to come on line, and it is during this period that conservation is most needed. "The crisis will be solved by desalination and recycled water in two years," says Schor. "The main problem are the two to three coming years. We must cut down." Meanwhile, authorities have moved to decrease water demand in agriculture, and households will now be charged for using water over a set amount.