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Water

Expert opinion prepared by Shimon Tal, Tal Consulting, Inc., former water commissioner

Past developments: The provision of water was perceived as a strategic foundation for achievement of national objectives; the water supply network was administered at the national level; until the 1990s agriculture was held as a dominant objective in the political perspective relating to management of the water supply network. The water economy infrastructures (legal, physical, and administrative) were constructed with due consideration to the severe shortage in water sources and the expected future intensification of this shortage.

 

Present trends: Water continues to be perceived as a resource in short supply.
The objectives of water supply have been expanded today and include the conservation of landscape and natural water sources as national objectives. Water also plays a political role in the Middle East, and Israel must abide by its obligations under political agreements in which water is an important issue among the issues on the negotiating table. Other trends include: drawing a distinction in the administration of the water economy between policymakers (the government and its ministers) and ongoing professional management (the Water Authority); advancing the objectives of sustainability in the water economy by increasing the sources of water – desalination and recycling of wastewater for agriculture; preservation of water sources by preventing their contamination and by rehabilitating contaminated water sources; ensuring availability of drinking water by developing procedures and methods for alternative water supply during times of crisis.

 

“Business as usual” scenario: The master plan for the water system that was approved in July 2011 prepares the water system to operate in conditions of uncertainty, such as a decrease in natural water sources. Under the procedures of the water system , water supply for urban and industrial consumers will be determined by market allocation . The preservation and promotion of national objectives (scope and distribution  of agriculture, water for nature, and provisions regarding water in the peace agreement) will be achieved by means of price subsidies. Ensuring reliable water supply for various needs will be achieved by efficient exploitation of the operative water storage systems and other water sources. Plans to double the potential water sources will be achieved through desalination, more efficient use of energy sources for water production, and use of wastewater for agriculture, alongside reduction of the risks of land and groundwater contamination. There will also be active engagement in the search for regional solutions to develop additional water sources and overcome regional shortages. The development of additional water sources (fossil waters in the Negev, exploitation of surface runoff) will entail examination of their economic feasibility. The efficiency of water use will be achieved by demand management and managing runoff and drainage.

 

Recommendations for the future:

The approved master plan for the water system is in fact a development plan for the coming years.

 

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