Comptroller Blames Desalination Shortfall on Bad Management

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of an island in the Kinneret made visible as a result of water withdrawal near Kibbutz Ma’agan. (Flash90)

After four consecutive years of drought, Israel depends heavily on its desalination program for water, but the state comptroller said on Monday that the state’s water management is to blame for a shortfall in the supply of desalinated water.

“The Water Authority is charged with the responsibility for the country’s most important natural resource but has for years managed the water in a way that is not suitable for the scale of responsibility that it entails,” State Comptroller Yosef Shapira charged in his annual report published on Monday.

The report says that the Water Authority has not met the official target set in 2008 for the amount of water to be produced by desalination plants by 2020. The country’s five desalination plants currently produce 585 million cubic meters of water annually, significantly less than the 2020 target of 750 million cubic meters.

In response, the Water Authority claimed that the report is misinterpreting the target number. The government goal, it said, was to provide up to 750 million cubic meters of water by 2020, but not necessarily 750 million cubic meters.

The comptroller also castigated the Water Authority for failing to prepare a master plan, as required by a government decision in 2010.

A planned sixth desalination plant will not be operational before 2020, which means that farmers, who need water for irrigation, and householders for drinking and bathing, will continue under the threat of drought conditions and be asked to reduce their use of water.

The comptroller also took aim at the IDF’s adaptation to new battlefield technologies.

The report said that many commanders do not know how to use the latest aerial intelligence capabilities from IDF Unit 9900, which is should enable them to make real-time use of data on terrain and enemy dispositions provided by IDF aircraft, drones and satellites.

Shapira faulted lack of coordination between the intelligence middlemen in Unit 9900 and the field commanders. These intelligence coordinators are supposed to spend a certain amount of time in the field each year to stay up-to-date with operational realities, but the report said that such training is not being implemented.

An IDF spokesman responded by saying those issues would be corrected by the end of 2018.

Caption

Flash90

View of an island in the Kinneret made visible as a result of water withdrawal near Kibbutz Ma’agan.