11/02/2010 23:38

Water Authority spokesman tells ‘Post’ if each individual cuts back on household use even minimally, public can save equivalent of two large desalination plants.

As another month has passed with little to no rainfall, the water situation is becoming increasingly perilous.

“There’s no room for error,” Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. “Any little problem or malfunction could result in shortages.”

The Water Authority said Tuesday that Lake Kinneret’s water level dropped another 20 centimeters in October, as two local rains did nothing to reverse the downward trend and didn’t even reach all parts of the country. By comparison, last October, the Kinneret’s water level dropped 9 cm.

The Water Authority is keeping an extremely close eye on the heavens, but the forecasts do not hold out much hope for this winter. In addition to being a dry year so far, this winter comes after six years of arid winters that have reduced the water reserves tremendously. The average available water has dropped in recent years from 1.5 billion cubic meters a year to as low as 800 million cu.m. this year.

On Monday, Water Authority head Prof. Uri Shani said that the water crisis would reach its peak in 2012, according to The Marker.

Shani was speaking at the inauguration of a new water corporation for Galilee communities.

This year, the water levels would probably end on the black lines, and by 2012, the country would be facing its worst water crisis in history as the reserves disappeared and the rains didn’t fall, Shani reportedly said.

The Water Authority has already reduced the allotment to agriculture this year and will do so even more next year, Schor told the Post Tuesday.

Watering public gardens has also been cut back.

But the biggest consumers of water in Israel these days are households, and it is toward these that the Water Authority has begun to target its efforts. Its campaign of handing out water-saving devices for faucets is the latest direct foray into the household sector.

Schor said the authority was not considering water rationing or a drought levy to force the public to use less water. However, the greatest potential for savings resides now with the public, he said.

“Each person in Israel uses an average of 165 liters of fresh water a day.

If each person reduced their water use by 10 percent a day – which is very easy to do – it would be the equivalent of two large desalination plants,” he said.

“For instance, shortening a shower by two minutes would save about 40 liters a day – that’s already a savings of 25%!” Schor exclaimed.

Appealing to the public to conserve has been extraordinarily effective, according to Schor. In the last two years, the public has cut back its water consumption by 18%.

“But we need to keep going,” he said.

And while the situation over the next couple of years will be tight, by 2013, all of the desalination plants will be operational and producing 70% of fresh water. Forty percent of fresh water is already produced by desalination today.

With all of the desalination plants running, the situation would still be grim, but production independent of divine providence would eventually enable equilibrium to be reached.