New regulations intended to bring higher quality drinking water to every Israeli; Shas MK calls decision “historic.”

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Wednesday approved regulations intended to bring higher quality drinking water to every Israeli.

“This is a historic moment,” said MK Amnon Cohen (Shas), chairman of the committee. “Approval of water regulations will ensure water quality will be at the highest level of international standards for residents of Israel.”

The new standards will update the previous Public Health Regulations on sanitary quality of drinking water, established in 1974, and will place more stringent requirements on water quality, according to the committee. The rules are based on the findings of a committee appointed in 2003 and headed by Health Ministry director- general Prof. Avner Adin, which focused on bringing the regulations up to an international level.

Key changes include an obligation of the water supplier to test water taps in individual homes and institutions at the request of the consumer. Publication of information regarding water quality on the supplier’s website will also be obligatory, as will the need to immediately report any deviation from water quality levels.

The regulations also call for the appointment of an advisory committee on drinking water quality that will monitor the latest research on the subject, and recommend conducting data collection in institutions containing sensitive populations and in old buildings.

Inclusion of fluoride in water will be allowed to continue for the next year, during which the Health Ministry will conduct research about the practice.

One or more of the country’s desalination plants will conduct a three-year pilot program in which the facility adds magnesium to desalinated water, after which its management will report results to the ministry and the advisory committee.

The Health Ministry said it was proud that the regulations had been approved, which would bring Israel’s citizens the highest quality of drinking water. The regulations add 40 substances to the list of chemicals tested for in water, and will not allow for the presence of even one coliform bacterium in 10 milliliters of water.

Meanwhile, training and accreditation of all personnel engaged in water sanitation will be mandatory, according to the ministry.

Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) praised the approval, saying that its staff members had spearheaded more than 10 years of public campaigns and High Court of Justice petitions on the subject.

“Today there is a demand for drinking water quality checks more frequently and for sanitation surveys of all water facilities for the early discovery of problems,” said Sarit Caspi, head of water at Adam Teva V’Din.

Adam Teva V’Din has long been petitioning the High Court to mandate the new regulations, which the organization said would ensure the protection of anyone who drinks tap water, as well as determine standards for checking water contaminants, in accordance with the policies of the World Health Organization, the European Union and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Within the new regulations are items specifically suggested by Adam Teva V’Din, including increased transparency regarding cases of contamination, as well as provisions to allow ordinary citizens to ask their water supplier to sample their taps, the organization said.

“We praise the committee’s chairman MK Amnon Cohen for his thorough and professional work and the Environmental Protection Ministry on the approval of the regulations,” said Amit Bracha, executive director of Adam Teva V’Din.

“Today it was determined that the right to suitable quality drinking water will not only be within reach of people who are capable of improving their drinking water by means of filtering apparatuses and mineral water.”

Bracha called the regulations an “important advance in environmental social justice,” a step that would allow all residents of Israel equal access to proper drinking water.