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Israel will soon be unable to use a considerable part of its natural water sources, the Water Authority warns, because of the deteriorating quality of ground-water reserves, exacerbated by reduced rainfall due to climate change.

Most of the water in the Coast Aquifer, one of Israel's two main ground-water sources, is below the standard for potable water, according to a recent report by the Water Authority's Hydraulic Service. The report analyzed the water's quality on the basis of recommendations for drinking water made by a team of experts headed by Professor Avner Adin.

Most of the committee's recommendations, which have not been anchored in legislation yet, are more strict than the former standards.

The Hydrological Service recommends reducing the water drilling from the West Mountain Aquifer (the other major freshwater source, which also provides water for the Palestinians) by one tenth and to be prepared for increased water drilling on the Palestinian side.

It also recommends to stop pumping more water than the rainwater entering the ground water reserve in the Coast Aquifer, which provides almost one third of Israel's water consumption. Instead it urges creating alternative water sources, such as desalination.

Water tests indicate that 16 percent of the water pumped two years ago from the Coast Aquifer two years ago were inferior in quality with excessive chloride or nitrate - pollutants caused by sewage and fertilizers. Even in places where 95 percent of the water came from the aquifer, tests showed that it was polluted and salted, which means that these problems are expected to get worse.

One reason for the Coast Aquifer's salification is the excessive water drilling, which lowers the water's level and leads to the penetration of sea water into the drinking water. The Hydraulic Service report said that sea water has penetrated one kilometer and two kilometers inland in several places, and has reached the area where most of the drilling for aquifer water takes place.

Unlike the Coast Aquifer, the Mountain Aquifer's water quality is still good. However, the Hydraulic Service says that the water in Qalqilyah and Tul Karm is still being polluted. The Service recommends speeding up the treatment of sewage from West Bank Palestinian communities and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.