Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

New Report Charges Mismanagement of Israel’s Scarce Water Resources

January 3, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

State Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat has charged the authorities with long-term mismanagement of the country’s dwindling water resources.

The report, released Wednesday by the retired member of the High Court of Justice, now the government’s fiscal watchdog, was presented to Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan, who has himself warned that a water crisis is imminent.

He promised he would carefully study Ben-Porat’s findings and recommendations, which include removing the water economy from the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Ministry.

The report charges that past failures to face up to the grim facts of water shortages, which have been apparent for many years, endanger the future strength and well-being of the country.

The report covers the administrations of at least eight ministers of agriculture and three water commissioners.

Eitan, who has been in office only six months, a small fraction of the period covered in the report, announced recently that it may be necessary to ration water for agricultural, industrial and domestic uses because of the late onset of the winter rains.

This is the fourth consecutive year of drought conditions in Israel, and water levels in the national reservoir were at record lows last month.

Eitan said Tuesday during a tour of the Negev that the southern region will be the main focus of agricultural development because of the water shortages in the north.

He said there was sufficient saline water in the Negev that has not been used for agriculture. But there are many crops that can be conditioned for irrigation by water with a high salt content, he said.

Recommended from JTA