Water flowed for the first time through a new 13-km. pipeline in the Samaria region of the West Bank, inaugurated on Monday. It was put into place to alleviate water shortages in the settlements of Peduel, Alei-Zahav and Bruchin and in the surrounding Palestinian villages in Area C.“The importance of laying this pipeline today can’t be overestimated,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, who inaugurated its opening with Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz.It will provide an additional 2,500 to 3,000 cu.m. of water daily, said Dagan. Unfortunately, he added, “it only solves 25% of the problem.”There are still three water lines that need to be completed and portions of the project have not yet received final approvals, Dagan said.Benny Elbaz of the Civil Administration said that an additional 7,500 cu.m. would be available next year when another section of the pipeline will be laid near the Ofarim settlement.Water shortages chronically plague both Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, where the infrastructure cannot keep pace with the demands of the growing population and the agricultural needs of the area.The pipeline project, which began last year, has already increased water supplies by 5,000 cu.m. in the region, and is expected to also increase supply for Palestinians in the West Bank. Part of the delay in renovating the outdated pipes was the inactivity of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, whose work was frozen for six years and which was only reactivated in January of this year.The Water Authority and setters have also charged that Palestinian theft of water has depleted supplies.Steinitz said he has approved a master plan that would solve the water shortages for both Israelis and Palestinians, who have now relied on water tankers to get them through the summer months.