It took long enough, but Israel is taking steps to combat the severe water shortage by imposing a tax on excess usage.
According to Ynet, the tax goes into effect on July 1. Update: The law hasn’t been passed, and there is a question about whether the tax will be retroactive.
A family of four that uses more than 30 cubic meters (30 times 1000 liters–I love the metric system) over a two-month billing period will be subject to a tax of NIS 20 per cubic meter. Thirty percent of household water usage falls into this category, so the tax could be quite a windfall for the government.
A household containing more than four people is entitled to six extra cubic meters per additional person. So a family of six that kept its usage to below 42 cubic meters would be exempt from this tax.
To be eligible for more water at the lower rate, send a letter and a copy of both your laminated teudat zehut (identity card) and the sephach, the paper that lists each of your children, to your local water authority.
Variable rates for water have long been in force, and will continue. The first 18 cubic meters cost NIS 4 each. The next 12 cubic meters cost NIS 5.5 each. Use over 30, and the rate on the additional cubic meters jumps to NIS 8 each. With the tax, the highest rate will jump to NIS 28.
Some haredi politicians objected saying that the tax will adversely effect large families, whose water bills might increase by hundreds of shekalim. But there’s no reason for large families to get a break beyond the 6 cubic meters a person. The larger your household, the more efficiently you should be using water. It doesn’t take that much more to wash a large pot than a small one.
According to our most recent bill for March and April, which included Pesach, we used 26http://www.amotherinisrael.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=1659 cubic meters. We are seven people, or eight when my son is home from yeshiva. That’s pretty good for a household with three to four teens. But taxes aside, I know I could cut my usage even more. Even without skipping the laundry and the cleaning.
Let’s hope the tax will be effective and lead to an easing of the crisis.