Search

 

Cablegate: Embassy Tel Aviv

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #1211/01 1581327
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD9F1734 WSC0766-695)
P 061327Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7021
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 9872

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001211

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
DEPT FOR NEA/REA and OES/ENV
USDA FOR FAS/OCBD/DRDAD
AMMAN FOR ESTH - BHALLA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR IS PA JO
SUBJ: ISRAELI CABINET APPROVES EMERGENCY WATER PLAN

Ref: (A) TelAviv 242 B) TelAviv 678

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The GOI approved new emergency actions on June 1
to address the country's water shortage. Agriculture was cut by 40
percent in its allocation, and an extensive (and expensive) public
conservation program was approved. Major investments totaling
billions of shekels over coming years in wastewater treatment and
desalination capacity were announced. An inter-ministerial team
will now work on water issues in an effort to minimize the
bureaucratic squabbles that have previously hindered Israeli
efforts. End Summary.

2. (U) Israel's cabinet approved the proposed emergency plan
submitted by Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to deal
with Israel's water crisis. The plan, prepared by the Israel
Authority for Water and Sewage, addresses both short-term
(2008-2009) and long-term measures required to ensure the quantity
and quality of Israel's water supply until about 2020). The plan
has four main parts.

3. (U) First, the emergency plan allocates NIS 120 million (USD 36
million) to encourage water conservation. These funds target both
consumer practices and corporate users, in an attempt to encourage
more effective water usage and thereby increase the overall
availability of water in the short term. Higher water fees - giving
users the incentive to save water -- are another component of demand
management, as is cutting water allocations for public gardens use
by local authorities, cutting the allocation of national supply to
the agricultural sector, and increasing inspection and enforcement
activity.

4. (U) Second, the emergency plan allocates NIS 915 million (USD 275
million) to upgrade old and construct new plants to treat waste
water over in the next five years. Each cubic meter of water
recycled is one less that must be pumped or desalinated. This
action covers short and medium term needs.

5. (U) Third, the plan establishes the medium term goal of
increasing the quantity of desalinated water in Israel to 750
million cubic meters (mcm) a year: 600 mcm by 2013 and 100 mcm more
by 2020. Today 138 mcm are desalinated in Israel between the
Ashkelon and Palmahim plants, and 100 mcm more is under construction
in the Hadera plant. (This expands on the GOI decision made last
August to increase the quantity of desalinated water to 505 mcm a
year.)

6. (U) Fourth, the action program establishes an inter-ministerial
team to handle the actions proposed above efficiently and quickly,
including implementing the needed statutory processes to build and
expand the water infrastructure in Israel. Heading the team will be
the director of the State Authority for Water and Sewage. Other on
the team will be representatives of the Interior Ministry's Planning
Administration, the Finance Ministry, the Israel Lands
Administration, the Justice Ministry, and the National
Infrastructure Ministry.

7. (SBU) As post reported previously (reftels), the winter of
2007-2008 was extremely dry and the average rainfall was about 65%
of the annual average. The situation in the basin of the Sea of
Galilee and in the mountain region is particularly bad -- the
average rainfall there was less than 60% of the annual average. The
national water carrier Mekorot has ceased tapping the Sea since
January, but its water level has risen by only six centimeters
during the spring run-off period, and at the moment is at a level of
less than half a meter above the red line - the level at which it is
ecologically harmful to withdraw water. Despite the probability of
such a dry year coming on top of four straight years of drought
being only 2%, i.e., once in 50 years, this is indeed what has
happened. This year the level of the Sea of Galilee will drop to
almost a meter below the red line.

8. (SBU) Comment: The inter-ministerial committee may be the most
important feature of the emergency program, as bureaucratic
confrontation is partly to blame for the present predicament. In
2001, expansion of desalination capacity was agreed on, but the
Finance Ministry (supported by others) opted to delay allocating
funds for it as that winter's rains were plentiful. Getting
Finance, Lands Administration, Infrastructure, and Justice behind
the same policy will help speed implementation of desalination and
gray-water treatment actions. On June 1, the inter-ministerial
tender committee asked the three desalination operators in Ashkelon,
Palmahim, and Hadera to submit bids for expanding the plants.
Previous bidding requests have been challenged on legal grounds that
questioned the competitiveness and openness of favoring the existing
operators. Reportedly, a deputy to the accountant general in the
Finance Ministry did thorough staff work to examine the economic,
legal, engineering and statutory aspects necessary to carry out the
decision. Avoiding bureaucratic delays will be key to accomplishing
the objectives of the water action program.

JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC