Water Commissioner: Drought over, but prices won't fall

Alexander Kushnir: Despite the rain, the country's natural water reservoirs still lack one billion cubic meters of water.

"Israel is no longer drying up and the severe drought ended two years ago," Water Commissioner Alexander Kushnir told "Globes TV" today. "We're emerging from the drought, and the water sector has stabilized at a supply rate for the next 10-15 years."

Kushnir warned, however, "Notwithstanding all our excitement over the rain and the raging storm, the country's natural water reservoirs still lack one billion cubic meters of water, and the water sector isn't what it used to be - the Kinneret, the National Water Carrier and c'est tout. Today, at least half the water consumed is produced by industrial methods."

Kushnir said that the desalination plants, for which the Water Authority pays NIS 1.25 billion a year, were the reason for the high water prices. As for VAT on water, he said, "VAT is not under my authority… If someone were to cancel VAT, the price of water will fall… I'd be very happy at any decision that would lower the price of water, but since VAT is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, and since I, like every normal citizen, knows that the Ministry of Finance has quite a few problems with the budget and budget sources, it would be irresponsible on my part to tell them to cancel VAT."

"Globes TV": Will water prices ever come down?

Kushnir: "We will continue to pay the same price. But it would not be serious on our part were we not to accept the current situation and not work on improvements and streamlining."

Will we pay less one day?

"I suppose so. We will soon present to the Water Authority Council a plan to reduce the number of municipal water companies from 55 to 15-17. If we can implement this reduction, we'll save NIS 150-200 million. I don’t want to promise a dramatic reduction, because desalination will remain, transportation will remain, but this is one of the alternatives that we're examining to lower the current tariff."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 16, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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