Environment Minister Slams Water Conservation Campaign

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan slams the Water Authority's conservation campaign, saying that instead of encouraging long-term conservation it is paving the way for Israelis to resume their wasteful habits.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan slammed the Water Authority's conservation campaign yesterday, saying that instead of encouraging long-term economizing of water it is paving the way for the Israeli public to resume its wasteful habits.

While the campaign calls on the public to save water, it also promises that the crisis will be over in three years' time thanks to water desalination plants.

Earlier this week, Erdan wrote to National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, and to Water Authority head, Prof. Uri Shani, saying he was surprised to discover that one of the main messages of the campaign is that the water shortage will come to an end in three years.

"The crisis was and still is very serious. A public commission of inquiry into how the various actors involved had conducted themselves in this matter has only recently been completed," Erdan wrote.

"The extensive media campaign based on the notion that there is a need to save water for only the next three years is problematic," he continued. "It does not lead to any behavioral or cultural change among the general public and in a short time we will resume wasting water and water consumption will increase sharply, as in the past."

It is necessary to stick to the principles of water conservation in order to alter Israelis' built-in habits, Erdan said.

The Water Authority said in response that it has and will continue to invest in education and public relations campaigns aimed at encouraging intelligent use of water. The Israeli public has cut down its water consumption by as much as 20 percent as a result of the campaigns launched over the past two years, the authority added. "The [latest] campaign reflects the current situation of the country's water resources and specifically stresses that in three years Lake Kinneret will no longer be threatened with drying out," the statement read. "Until then, however, as well as afterward, it will still be necessary to conserve."