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Water for household use will go up in price 11.3 percent starting January 1, 2008. According to a decision by the Water Authority Council, water supplied by the Mekorot national water company prices for all uses will rise. Water for industrial use will go up 17.8 percent. The cause of the price hike is the cabinet decision to charge users for the costs of desalinating seawater in Ashkelon and Palmahim, according to a source in the Water Authority.

The two facilities desalinate about 130 million cubic meters of water a year at the cost of NIS 412 million. This increase is in addition to a 6 percent rise retroactive to September of this year.

The only institutions that evaded the increase besides hospitals are religious baths. A separate price for hotels was set for the first time: NIS 3.977. Water prices for farmers will rise by only 2.5 percent this year, based on a long-term agreement that will raise agricultural water prices in increments of only that amount until the price for farmers reaches the level charged to households.

Moshe Avnon from the Union of Local authorities strongly attacked the hike, calling it an additional tax on an existing tax for households and industry, and that users are paying twice already for the desalination.

The Water Authority will hold a public hearing on the matter on December 5.