Friday, March the 23rd, 11:45 am
Challenges and Solutions in Managing Water Sector. Climate Change vs. Governance
Somewhere about twenty years ago it had been finally comprehended that the natural water resources of the State of Israel were not capable to supply the required quantities for all the needs of the country. During the last decade the decision makers in Israel came to understanding that the only possible way to cope, on one hand, with the natural water shortage, and on the other, with growing population and quality of life standards, is to adopt and implement as the national policy the Integrated Water Resources Management approach. Thus, the ongoing struggle with almost constant water shortages gave birth to different new directions for the required measures that has been gradually developed based on economical, organizational and environmental abilities of the market.
At first stage an extremely high efficiency was reached in the agricultural production per water unit. In parallel, combining regulations with educational and media campaign we succeeded to reduce the domestic consumption in almost 20%. Following those, supported by more than 500 million dollars of governmental investments, a nationwide infrastructure of treated effluents plants was developed. Together with proper regulatory conditions this unprecedented step enabled to reuse 86% of treated sewage for irrigation and, due to increased availability and affordability – to sustain and develop a wide spectrum of agricultural fields. Different agricultural crops were adjusted to irrigation with brackish or marginal water in total annual volume of hundreds of millions cubic meters. As a major and reliable source of potable water the large scale seawater desalination program was implemented. Up-to-date the total production capacity of the seawater desalination plants that was built reaches almost 600MCM/Y, about 30% of all our water needs. As for now, we are finalizing a Master Plan for operation of the water sector up to 2050. This program maximizes the efficiency, conservation and wastewater reuse for agricultural needs, together with development of the required seawater desalination infrastructures in order to complete the future expected consumption.
Today the Water Authority of Israel is in charge of management and regulation of the Water Sector in Israel, by implementation of the Water Laws in all its aspects, such as: to allocate water resources, to ensure the optimal use and to fulfill the needs of the various sectors and to enable the further development of the country; to preserve and protect the existing natural water reserves, in quality and quantity; to plan and develop the National Water Sector; to set water tariffs and levies to all sectors: domestic consumers, urban uses, agriculture, industry and other; to set regulation norms and directives for water supply to end users, to municipal water companies and to “Mekorot” – Water National Company (Bulk Supplier); to ensure the reliable supply of all the potable water increasing needs, including through seawater desalination; to advance the sewage treatment up to the level adequate to unrestricted uses in agriculture and so on.
Establishment of wide range of different water resources enable the Israel Water Authority to activate the Integrated Water Resources Management model that takes into consideration the state of the art condition of the natural water resources, economic and environmental aspects, while preserving the natural resources for the benefit of future generations.
Advisor to the Director General and Head of the International Relations Unit The Governmental Authority for Water and Sewage (Israel)
Olga Slepner, MA at Political Science from Tel Aviv University, serves the Government since 2000. For more than a decade she holds the responsibility of management of the Director General’s activities of the Israel Water Authority as an Advisor and Chief of staff. The Governmental Authority for Water and Sewage of Israel is responsible by law for the management of Israel’s water resources, formulation of the water policy, regulation, planning and development of the water economy. Within this position Ms. Slepner heads the International Relations Unit and coordination of the Secretariat of the Water Authority Board, high level legislative body responsible by laws to set the policy at the water sector.