No More Water Cut-offs Without Special Approval

As of Wednesday water companies are longer allowed to shut off the water supply of debtors, unless they receive a special dispensation.

Hillel Fendel ,

Water (illustration)
Water (illustration)

As of April 1, the water companies and distributors in Israel are no longer able to cut off the water supply to those who have not paid their bills – unless special approval is received. This, as a result of a unanimous decision by the Knesset Economics Committee several weeks ago.

The change in water bill policies was made after a year of negotiations with the Tax Authority – at the end of which, the Committee's more lenient approach was adopted. A special advisory committee is to be established, including a social worker and social service experts, which will make the final decision on cut-offs.

The procedure will be as follows: The water cooperatives will submit its cut-off requests to cut off the water supply – but only to customers whose unpaid bills total 1,000 NIS ($250) or more. The cooperative must prove that it has tried to collect the bills in other ways. The board will then inform the customer of the cut-off request, and may invite him to explain his position; as of a year from now, the board will be required to invite him for this purpose. The board will then issue its decision as to whether the water may be cut off.

Attorney Tali Nir of the Citizens' Rights Union summed up: "In recent years we have repeatedly raised the alarm about the absurdity by which people are forced to live for days or weeks without water simply because they are poor. I am happy that the responsible elements in the Water Authority realized that a change was needed."

The Economics Committee was chaired during the outgoing Knesset by MK Avishai Braverman of the Labor Party. No chairman has yet been chosen for it, or for any other Knesset committee, for the 20th Knesset.