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Municipalities can continue watering their public parks this summer, at least to a limited extent, under an agreement reached yesterday.

The Water Authority reached an agreement with the Union of Local Authorities, the forum representing Israel's 15 largest cities, and the Israel Gardening and Landscaping Organization.

Municipalities will have half the usual amount of water for parks - 28 million cubic meters a year - and watering will be allowed only from April to November, from 5 P.M. to 10 A.M.

The final agreement will be signed soon, and the final local allocations will be made only after all the municipalities provide the Water Authority with specific figures about the location and size of areas to be watered.

The Authority already has announced that cutting back on watering public and private parks and yards will be its main method for saving water this year, and hopes to save tens of millions of cubic meters of water annually.

As part of the deal, any local authority that exceeds its quota by more than 20% will lose its allocation. Those who exceed by a lesser amount will be called in for a hearing.

The Water Authority spokesman said: "The agreement will significantly cut the watering of gardens. The municipalities will be required not only to report, but to install water meters. They will be under supervision, and those who deviate will lose their water allocation. The agreement is intended to allow the entire public access to parks."

ULA chairman Shlomo Buhbut said the municipalities will do what they must to save water, "but it is worth remembering that the situation was caused by the negligence of generations of Israeli governments."