Serious Water Shortage plagues Israel : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Report: Water crisis worse than predicted

Seawater has penetrated coastal aquifer

By Amiram Cohen Ha'aretz Agriculture Correspondent

The Water Commission's Hydrology Department is warning that Israel's potable water shortage is worse than originally estimated and that seawater has seeped into the southern coastal aquifer, causing Water Commissioner Shimon Tal to call for "cuts in everything."

A report on the matter was presented Thursday at a meeting of the committee administering Israel's water resources. Experts cited in report said the combination of groundwater overpumping in the area and the lack of sufficient rainfall in recent years has caused a shift of the sea waterline, inland. The penetration of seawater into southern coastal aquifer is already evident in Mekorot's water drilling in the Ashdod area, the report said.

An updated estimate of available potable water for 2001, also presented to the Commission, showed Israel has 475 million cubic meters of water less than needed to meet its water requirements. The previous estimate pegged the potable water deficit at only 390 million cubic meters for for 2001 - a 20 percent difference. (A cubic meter equals 1,000 liters.)

A key reason for the drastic shortfall is that this past March was the driest month of March in more than 40 years, the report indicated.

The reported water shortage already factors in the cuts that are being implemented in the allocation of water for agricultural purposes in 50 areas.

Water Commissioner Shimon Tal cautioned that even the estimated 475-million-cubic-meter shortfall in potable water for 2001 is subject to change. He added that cuts in water pumping for 2001 are meant to ensure the country's main reservoirs remain balanced, and that no further deterioration in their condition occurs.

"This shortage will force us to make cuts in everything - both in the water lines, and also in consumption," Tal warned. "I hope that the government will authorize the recommendations which we presented to it on the matter of saving [water] and further cuts in consumption. The larger the savings will be, we will need to pump less water over the limits."

The Water Commission expressed disappointment that the plan it handed the ministerial committee that met last week to discuss the matter did not win automatic approval. The plan includes several extreme measures to counter the water shortage, including a ban on watering of gardens and lawns for three years, and 10 percent cuts in water use by industry and agriculture.

A senior Water Commission official said, "The repeated postponment of decision making constitutes a dangerous game in [water] red lines.

-- meg davis (, April 09, 2001

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