maandag 22 december 2008

Waterschaarste: regenval in Israel ver onder jaarlijks gemiddelde

Is dit een gevolg van de wereldwijde klimaatverandering?
Ik zou Israel van harte wat van onze overvloedige regen gunnen, maar zo werkt dat helaas niet.
Bezuinigen op het water voor de landbouw lijkt onvermijdelijk: het verbouwen van paprika's, tomaten en zelfs bloemen voor de Europese markt lijkt niet erg verstandig gebruik van de schaarse watervoorraden in de regio, en het maakt maar een klein deel van het totale percentage van de waarde in export uit.

Rainfall under half of yearly average
Ehud Zion Waldoks , THE JERUSALEM POST
Far too little rain has fallen so far this year and the chances of making up the deficit this winter are less than 20%, Water Authority head Prof. Uri Shani told the cabinet Sunday morning. He and National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer updated the cabinet as to all aspects of water resources and how they were faring amidst the crisis.

With every indication that this year will be another especially dry one, just 100 mm have fallen on Lake Kinneret, Shani said. That's about 40% of what should have fallen thus far this winter. 50 mm fell on the mountain aquifer which is also only about 40%. The coastal aquifer has faired slightly better, he said, with rainfall of 100-120 mm or 60-70% of what it should have been in an average year. The three sources of the Jordan River (the Dan springs, the Banias, and the Shnir stream) had never been so low at the beginning of December, he added.

The severe lack of rain in the past few years has forced the government into a water "overdraft" of over a year's worth.

Ben-Eliezer urged all citizens to continue to conserve water, which has saved 70-100 million cubic meters of water so far, he said. That's roughly equal to the yearly output of the Ashkelon desalination plant.

Shani said restrictions on watering public and private gardens would remain in force, and if a serious drought developed, then watering gardens would be prohibited altogether. The Water Authority has reiterated recently that there would not be rationing of water for household use at any point.

Regarding desalination, the tender process for upping the output of the existing desalination plants in Ashkelon and Palmachim was nearing completion, Shani said. Moreover, companies had been invited to bid on the tender to build and operate a new desalination plant in Soreq, and the tender committee decided to scrap the process for the plant Mekorot is building in Ashdod in light of the crisis.

The first to be hit in any sort of water shortage is always agriculture and this year will be no different: 100 million cubic meters of fresh water will be cut from their allotment. In addition, despite NIS 600m. for developing sewage treatment plants and water reclamation, the state won't be able to reach the goal of recycling 100 million cubic meters of water in 2009, Shani admitted. The most that can be added will be 25 million cubic meters in 2009. Another 30 million cubic meters will be added in 2010, according to the Authority's head.

There is also 80 million cubic meters of treated water which is not being utilized right now, he added. It will all be used for irrigation by 2011, however, he told the cabinet.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon vigorously protested the cutbacks to agriculture and demanded that farmers be compensated for what would undoubtedly be a severe blow to their livelihood.

Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On replied that as far as the Treasury was concerned, no compensation would be forthcoming. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered Simhon, Bar-On and Ben-Eliezer to sit down this week and come up with potential solutions for the farmers.

Meanwhile, Ben-Eliezer will head to Jordan on Monday for a one-day regional water conference. Organized by the governments of Jordan, Egypt and France, countries from the Mediterranean basin and Europe will also be attending.

The ministers are expected to sign a cooperation agreement and discuss the Red-Dead Canal project.

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