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Water shortage critical, Olmert tells Cabinet

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel could begin rationing household water usage as early as the spring, the head of its water authority said.

Uri Shani, the director of Government Water and Sewage, told the Israeli Cabinet that the last four years of below-average rainfall and predictions for more of the same in the next two years means that cuts in allocations of water for agriculture will not be enough to prevent the nation’s water sources from becoming contaminated and household water rationing will follow. The Cabinet held a special discussion Sunday on the emergency water situation.

“We are facing a serious problem," Olmert told the Cabinet after being presented with data showing a projected water shortage next year of 1 billion cubic meters. "According to the data, there will be a shortage that could disrupt the way of life of the entire country in a few years if we do not deal with it now."

At the meeting, the Cabinet voted unanimously to speed up the construction of a desalination plant in Ashdod by halting the tender process. Olmert also instructed the Finance Ministry to investigate ways to purchase more desalinated water. 
 

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