The tax no one wants to collect

Water Authority hopes 'draught levy' will deter wastefull households.

tap water 88 (photo credit: )
tap water 88
(photo credit: )
If you don't have a garden or a pool and don't waste water at home, then there's nothing for you to worry about in the rest of this article. The "drought levy," which was renamed the "excessive use levy," imposes an NIS 20 surcharge on every cubic meter of water used over a certain level. It is set to be aproved by the Knesset next week and to go into effect retroactively from July 1. Here's what you need to know: Every household of between one to four people will get 30 cu.m. of water per two months at the Tariff A or B prices, which will remain unchanged. For every additional person, an extra 6 cu.m. per two months will be allocated at the Tariff A rate. How much water is 30 cu.m. per two months? It depends where you live, but it's generally enough for everything you've been doing until now, as long as you don't have a garden or a pool. For example, the average Jerusalemite uses 7.4 cu.m. every two months, according to data provided by The Water Authority. So a family of four would use 29.6 cu.m. per two months. In other words, they would still continue to pay for all of their water under the Tariff A rate. Modi'in Illit and Taibe residents use less than 7.4 cu.m per two months, so they won't generally feel any impact on their pocketbook either. Tel Avivians, on the other hand, use more - 12 cubic meters per person per two months on average. So, is the point of the levy to target Tel Aviv residents? According to the Water Authority, the answer is no. The Authority says it hopes not to have to collect a single shekel from the levy. The idea, it says, is rather to encourage water conservation through targeting people's wallets. "If less water is consumed and nothing is collected, that will be great from our perspective," Water Authority Spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post. Where it gets interesting is in some of the upper class areas in the center of the country. The average monthly consumption of a Kfar Shmaryahu resident is 19.7 cu.m. In Savyon, it's a whopping 24.9 cu.m. per month. So the levy will certainly hit their water bills very hard. The levy is basically a continuation of the Authority's policy: There's been a massive water crisis going on for the last five years, water from natural sources is scarce and desalination is not up to speed yet, so let's cut back on nonessential use. While keeping the country green is nice, it's better to cut back there than on people's basic needs. First, the Authority restricted watering lawns. Now, they are moving into the household sector. The message is: Sure, if you want to fill up your pool or water your lawns and gardens all through the summer, go ahead. But you'll have to pay through the nose to do so. The Water Authority hopes that a really high water bill will cause those heavy users to rethink their water use for the good of their pocketbooks, and ultimately for the good of the country. While the levy has yet to be approved by the Knesset, it can go into effect retroactively. It is part of the Economics Arrangements Bill, which is making its way through the Knesset now and is expected to be approved next week. While not an ideal situation, it is still legally permissible. An initial practical objection by the water corporations has also seemingly been removed. The corporations complained that they could not collect an additional water tax without a lengthy preparation process. However, now that the levy has been merged with the Tariff C rate, then the water corporations' accounting and billing services can handle it.