National Water Rationing Likely

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Officials of Mekerot, Israel's National Water Carrier, warned of the likelihood of water rationing in the spring should the nation suffer another winter of below average rainfall.

In remarks at Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting, Mekerot chief Uri Shani said forecasts did not leave much room for optimism.

Following four consecutive winters of below-average rainfall, a fifth season of scant rains will affect not only the agricultural sector, but also force Israelis to forego watering their gardens.

National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the water shortage will severely affect the nation's farmers.

"No one should delude themselves," Ben-Eliezer said. "We will have to cut between 100 and 150 million cubic meters OF WATER , and we will have to compensate the farmers who will lose their income," he said.

Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor said they would have to see how much rain falls before determining the cuts, which could range from 40 to 100 million cubic meters for agriculture, a quarter of the normal fresh-water allocations.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet voted to speed up construction of a desalination plant in the coastal city of Ashdod, just north of Ashkelon.

Ben-Eliezer said the ministry's public campaign urging citizens to conserve water, launched earlier this year, has yielded a savings of 70 million cubic meters of water so far.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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