Poll: Israelis worried about water crisis [p. 6]

Israelis apparently think they are doing their part to stem the country's water shortage, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Tahal Group, an engineering consultant firm. Seventy-five percent of the 600 households sampled said they were "strict" with water consumption. Half of this group said they were "vigilant" in their water usage because they believed there was a national water crisis, and 39% said they were careful to keep their water bills down. The Tahal Group commissioned the study as part of a successful bid to win a contract from Mekorot (national water company) to reduce domestic water consumption. Domestic consumption refers mostly to individual households and not public gardening or institutions. Under the terms of the one-year contract, the Tahal Group is responsible for reducing household water usage in 17 northern municipalities, including Haifa, Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona and Hadera. The Milgram company will try to do the same in the center of the country and the South. Part of the challenge for the two companies will be changing public perception, said Dr. Sinaia Netanyahu, a senior economist with Tahal. The survey's results indicated that 52% of the respondents believe they use the most water taking showers; 14% think the kitchen (drinking, cooking and dish washing) is the greatest culprit; 6% blame the washing machine; and 4% cite the toilet. According to figures from Mekorot, the toilet and shower use the most water, each accounting for 35% of household consumption. Kitchen activities use 20% and the washing machine 5%. "Most of the savings can probably be done with toilets," Netanyahu said, "and we want to encourage people to switch into two-level flushing." Tahal plans to launch a two-part program to encourage citizens to conserve water. The first half will use publicity and an educational campaign aimed mainly at young children, believing they can influence their parents' behavior. The second part will focus on fixing leaks in buildings and providing subsidized water-pressure-reducing devices to individual households. According to terms set by Mekorot, Tahal and Milgram will not be paid unless per capita average water consumption in 2007 is lower than it was in 2004 at both national and regional levels. The national per capita average in 2004 was 59.52 cubic meters. Average per capita consumption in the northern municipalities was 67.22 cu. m.