10/25/2010 04:36

Move pushes forward processes already in works, such as master plan for water economy and slight reorganization of Water Authority’s responsibilities.

The cabinet during its weekly meeting on Sunday agreed to adopt the recommendations of the Bein Commission, which examined the handling of water in Israel.

The Bein Commission spent a year-and-a-half gathering testimony and documentation before offering a series of proposals, many of which have already been evaluated by the relevant bodies.

The cabinet okay thus pushes forward processes already in the works, such as a master plan for the water economy and a slight reorganization of the Water Authority’s responsibilities.

It confirms that the price of water must include all of the costs of its production – which means the price of water will inexorably rise over time as desalinated water replaces rainfall as the main source of the nation’s fresh water.

These decisions were crafted by the National Infrastructures Ministry based on an interministerial committee review of the Bein Commission’s final report, and by and large mirror the commission’s recommendations.

The Water Authority is now charged with encouraging water conservation, treating contaminated water and producing fresh water via desalination and other projects. It also gives the authority more enforcement capabilities while installing more oversight on the ministerial level.

Moreover, the Water Authority will embark on a process of suggesting legislative changes to create a unified “Water Codex,” that would update the law as necessary while assembling all of the relevant legislation in one place.

A center for water quality will also be established.

“It is important to note that the water economy is still in serious crisis, after six dry years, and according to the forecasts, this winter will also be dry,” National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said.

“Water is a basic, existential product. And yet, a desalination plant that Mekorot was supposed to be building in Ashdod has been held up for a year. Time after time, we the ministers find our hands shackled and weights on our legs when we need to act fast.”

The desalination plant has been held up because of a dispute between the Treasury and Mekorot about how much the state will pay per cubic meter of water produced.

Landau also ordered the Water Authority to prepare an emergency plan for 2011- 12 and present it within the next few weeks.