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The water consumption of the average Israeli household declined by more than 9 percent over the past year, primarily due to efforts to encourage conservation, the Mekorot Water Company said in a new report.

The company also managed to reduce substantially the amount of water it draws from Lake Kinneret by drilling new wells and cleaning up polluted wells as alternatives.

New data on general water consumption have not been released by the state Water Authority, due to a prolonged strike by employees.

Mekorot supplies about 80 percent of Israel's water, while the rest comes primarily from water companies belonging to consortiums organized by local authorities.

Mekorot supplied 738 million cubic meters of water to Israeli households in 2009, 9.2 percent less than in 2008, reflecting reduced consumption following various conservation efforts. These efforts included public relations campaigns, restrictions on watering gardens and the drought tax.

A major aspect of Mekorot's activity over the past year has involved diversification of water sources to keep the Kinneret's water level from declining any further; it has been dropping for several years straight.

Mekorot drilled 15 emergency wells last year, which produced 25 million cubic meters of water, as opposed to three wells in a normal year.

Mekorot also cleaned up polluted wells. At one site in Jerusalem that had been polluted by a military plant, for instance, it installed coal filters. Recovered wells yielded an additional 45 million cubic meters of water.

Mekorot director general Ido Rosolio said that if enough funding is available, the company will be able to produce this amount of water from polluted wells this year as well, which would be equal to the production capacity of a large desalination plant.

Due to the alternative sources, last year Mekorot drew half the amount of Kinneret water that it used in 2008. The company also purchased 161 million cubic meters of desalinated water last year, more than a 10th of the total quantity it supplied. Much more desalinated water is expected to enter the market this year, as a large desalination plant begins operations in Haifa.