Knesset gets down to brass tacks of water conservation

Bill requiring all public buildings to install water-saving devices on its faucets and toilets approved for first reading.

Water 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Water 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an inadvertently humorous session, the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approved for a first reading on Monday of a bill requiring all public buildings to install water-saving devices on its faucets and toilets. The bill was proposed by MKs Yohanan Plessner (Kadima), Gilad Erdan (Likud), Dov Henin (Hadash), Eitan Cabel (Labor) and Estherina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu). Water Authority Conservation Branch head Yaakov Lev held a lively debate with Henin over the relative merits of putting a liter-and-a half-bottle in the tank of one's toilet to ensure each flush uses less water. Lev argued against the idea from a professional perspective, saying the Authority had passed a standard that demanded that toilet tanks hold 6.3 liters rather than 9 liters. Henin responded that all the literature he had read firmly advocated the notion of a bottle. Getting back to conservation devices, the debate addressed the practicalities of implementation. While representatives of the various public bodies that would be affected by the bill did not object to it in principle, they begged for sufficient time to implement such an enormous overhaul. According to them, they needed the time to request allocation in their upcoming annual budget, which was currently under discussion. After that, they said, they needed sufficient time to install the devices. The version approved for first reading called for the bill to go into effect six months after its passage. However, that stipulation was also left open for review before future readings. The IDF representative argued that six months was nowhere near enough time to install the devices at every army base. The Water Authority requested that the Conservation Branch provide a list of approved devices. In addition, they would prepare a list of institutions which might have trouble implementing the law because of practical objections, including piping so old that the entire system would have to be replaced to install water saving devices. Lev suggested that hospitals might object to the devices on principle, because they could theoretically become breeding grounds for salmonella and other bacteria. The Interior Ministry representative at the meeting requested on behalf of the Israel Prisons Service that tamper-proof devices be included on the "approved" list, since previous attempts to install such devices in jails had failed because prisoners had removed them or destroyed them.