Whereas in past decades, development of the water sector in Israel was geared to supporting growth of the economy, the 'eighties have seen a need primarily for conservation of the existing water resources and supply systems, and for ensuring the required quality for drinking. This turning point is a result of the following principal developments:
• Frequent droughts, which have precluded the concurrent attainment of all the goals initially envisaged for the water sector.
• Changing characteristics of water consumption and supply in particular: (i) the increasing extent of urban and industrial consumption vs. agricultural consumption; (ii) the growing use of wastewater in agriculture; (iii) the developing need for supplying water of varying quality; and (iv) the higher investments needed for improvement of water quality.
• The necessity for replacing, in the near future the water supply systems, most of which were installed in the 'fifties and early 'sixties.
• Deterioration of natural water resources.
The present master plan is aimed at formulating a program and course of action based on:
• The engineering and administrative means needed to ensure essential water supply, in particular of drinking water, in the long run under varying conditions of water source quality, climate, system reliability and usage patterns.
• Revised distribution of water resources for the various end uses up to the beginning of the next century under limitations of budget, and taking into account water prices, availability and quality.
• The means necessary for management and preservation of natural water resources in the long-run.
• The changes and innovations necessary in the regional and national supply systems .
Work on the master plan includes:
• Collection and interpretation of data on water demand, supply, quality and balances, and reliability of supply.
• Preparation of programs for management and preservation of water resources, and operation and management of the water supply systems, including intakes, groundwater wells, artificial recharge installations, conveyance pipelines and canals, distribution systems, natural and manmade reservoirs , and treatment plants .
• Economic and organizational analysis: formulation of policy regarding prices and levies, investments in research and development, and reorganization of the water sector, including legislative changes, where necessary.
• Presentation of variouss cenarios and recommendations, as well as steps for realization of the program.
Although the program encompasses the period up to the year 2010, it also focuses on relevant shortterm effects. In addition, it is amenable to derivation of specific programs for regional or local implementation.