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Hot July Weather Pushes Up Water Use

Water usage in Israel has been climbing, but Israel may soon solve some of its water problems, a top Mekorot official said
By David Lev
First Publish: 8/23/2012, 2:50 PM

A Mekorot water pipe
A Mekorot water pipe
Flash 90

Besides heavy electricity use as Israelis ran their air conditioners 24/7, this summer's seemingly endless heat wave has taken a toll on Israel's water supply: In July, home water usage jumped 14.3%, compared to a year earlier. Water usage in agriculture, rose 13.5% compared to July 2011, while industrial use of water jumped 7.3% compared to a year before.

While heavier use of water by farmers would be expected in a hot summer season, the sharp increase of water for users took regulators by surprise, sources in the Water and Energy Ministry said. Home use of water in July 2012 was 71.8 million cubic meters, compare to 62.8 mcm in July 2011. According to statistics, July was not necessarily an anomaly, either: Water usage had been going up for the past several years. The total use of water in the first six months of 2012 as 8% higher than between January and July of 2011. But officials said that the hot weather as also responsible for the heavy increase.

In a statement, Shimon Ben Hamu, chairman of the Mekorot Water Company, said that his company “continues to search for creative solutions to ensuring that Israel's water economy develops properly, and that there is a steady and safe supply of water. Mekorot's research budget for 2012 is NIS 1.2 billion, sufficient for the completion of the new National Water Carrier, which will transport desalinated and treated water throughout the country.

By the end of 2013, we expect that 75% of home water supplies will be from desalinated or treated and recycled water,” Ben Hamu said, adding that at that point he expected Israel's water economy to show a surplus, which will allow the replenishing of aquifers and lakes.