Kinneret Administration Nurtures Lawn - Despite Water Restrictions on Grass

As the Water Authority is publishing new regulations to decrease water consumption and targeting grass as one of the most wasteful ornamental plants, the Kinneret Administration - which maintains the shores of Israel's largest reservoir, Lake Kinneret - is nurturing a green stretch of lawn in front of its office.

"Even if this is legal, this body is supposed to be a role model and it's setting a bad example for the public, and there is something wrong with this," says a student at Kinneret College, which is located across the road.

The grassy lawn outside the Kinneret Drainage Authority and the Kinneret Administration offices, at Tzemach Junction, was planted at the end of last summer, when the water crisis was beginning. The Kinneret Drainage Authority implements the policies of the Kinneret Association of Towns, a new body that manages the lake shores.

In order to conserve water, the Water Authority announced this week that local authorities that do not meet demands to cut water consumption will have to dry out lawns. This means that lawns will be prohibited in the yards of apartment buildings and private homes.

"You can sow grass but you can't water it," said Uri Shor, Water Authority spokesman. "It is certainly glaring that such a body is growing a lawn, but as long as it has not been proved that they are watering it, they have not violated the law."

Yossi Vardi, chairman of the Kinneret Towns Association, said, "We have not yet received the regulations. We will conform to them when we do."

Meanwhile, Green Course - Students for the Environment denounced the Kinneret Association of Towns over its request to take control of a beach on the lake in order to establish a dock there, as was first reported two weeks ago in Haaretz.

"The Kinneret Towns Association was established in order to preserve the Kinneret beaches, many of which already have been stolen from the public by private entrepreneurs, construction and more," said Yochi Jacobson, the organization's spokeswoman in the North. "How can it be that the Kinneret Towns Association is initiating an absurd move like this, even though it has alternatives? Instead of preserving the lakeshore environment and doing its job, the Kinneret Towns Association has thus far largely made public relations moves intended to justify its existence."

Vardi said, "We will decide what we are going to do. We thought this was a suitable place to launch the patrol boats, but if the Committee for the Preservation of the Lakeshore Environment objects, we aren't going to go to war with them."