Watering public parks and gardens: 200 million cu.m./yr.

Take a trip around the country and note how many public parks and gardens there are. Green practically shouts from every community. That has been a calculated choice by the government to allow people the illusion that they don't live in a desert climate. Admittedly, it does have many beneficial environmental properties as well. But the cost in terms of water is very high. Roughly a quarter of all fresh water allocated for "household" use goes to gardening - 200 million cu.m./yr. out of about 800 million comes out of sprinkler systems which keep parks and gardens from turning brown. Normally, that much water would be an acceptable price to pay to live in a green country rather than a drab and dull brown one. However, in a time of acute crisis, basic assumptions have to be revisited. Last year, the Water Authority appointed a committee to rethink the way gardening is handled. It is based on its recommendations that the authority recently did away with the discount on water for public gardening. Moreover, the authority is planning on putting separate meters in municipalities, kibbutzim and moshavim to monitor gardening, so that if it decides to prohibit it, it can check if the prohibition is being obeyed. The authority has already prohibited putting down new grass and watering parks and gardens from November to May. If the crisis continues, it is seriously considering letting the gardens wilt and the parks go brown to free up the water for drinking, cooking and bathing.