Water Prices to Jump

Water prices in Israel will be jacked up 25 percent next week – and nearly the same amount again in the following year.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 2:39 PM

desalination plant
desalination plant
Israel news photo

Water prices in Israel will be jacked up 25 percent next week – and nearly the same amount again in the coming year.  This, in accordance with a final decision made by Israel’s national Mekorot (Sources) Water Company.

The rates will jump 25 percent on January 1, another 16 percent on July 1, and yet another 2 percent on January 1, 2011.

In addition, it is likely that a change in the way water is paid for might lead to another 16.5 percent hike. Water is currently billed by local town and city councils - but if water corporations take over this function, as is likely, VAT (Value Added Tax) of 16.5 percent will have to be added.

Water in Israel currently costs consumers approximately between 5.50 and 8 shekels (between $1.50 and slightly more than $2.00) per cubic meter.

Three Years of Hardship
Prof. Uri Shani, head of Israel’s Water Authority, says that the sharp increases in water prices will help end Israel’s water crisis within three years. “We have another three hard years of having to save water,” he told a recent Knesset committee session on the matter. “But without this reform in water rates, we won’t be able to pay for new desalination plants, nor connect them to the water distribution network, nor prevent water loss in these systems.”

The government hopes to build two new desalination plants by the year 2012, alleviating much of Israel's water crisis.

This month for the first time, water from Israel's newest desalination facility - in Hadera - joined the existing Mekorot network and was piped to citizens. The new plant will provide 150,000 cubic meters a day at first (approximately 50 million a year), and is expected to reach full capacity of 2.5 times that amount within a few months, making it the largest desalination plant of its kind in the world.

In addition to the Hadera plant, Israel has three other major desalination centers: Ashkelon (100 million cubic meters a year); Palmachim (30 million); and Eilat, where Israeli desalination began in 1965. In addition, two others are to be built by 2012, in Ashdod and Sorek.

Kinneret Level: Low
The level of water in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel’s largest reservoir, currently stands at 214.06 meters below sea level – approximately midway between the recommended “red line” and the forbidden-to-pass “black line.”  It is approximately 1.5 meters lower than it was at this time two years ago.