Winter is nearly upon us, with hopes that the weather forecasts predicting a rainier-than-average season will materialize. Now is a good opportunity for us to take a closer look at water consumption data. 

We all remember the ‘Israel is drying out’ ad campaigns and the need to save water ‘because we only have one Lake Kinneret’. But these ads have disappeared from the billboards in recent years. One reason is the use of desalinated water which, fortunately, has become increasingly prevalent in Israel. Today five main desalination plants are operational – in Ashkelon, Palmachim, Hadera, Sorek and Ashdod. These provide about 50% of Israel’s potable water.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics data, average per capita household water consumption in Israel stood at 55.7 m3 in 2020 – about 152 liters per capita per day. Distribution of water usage includes toilet flushing (35%), bathing (35%), drinking, cooking and dishwashing (20%), laundry and cleaning (5%) and gardening (5%).

Water consumption data points to a significant association between water consumption and socioeconomic status – the higher the socioeconomic level, the higher the water consumption. In 2020, the highest per capita water consumption per day measured in Israel was in Kfar Shmaryahu (816 liters), followed by Savyon (769 liters) and Omer (294 liters). The lowest measurements were recorded in the Bedouin localities in the Negev – Lakiya, Ar’arat an-Naqab and Tel Sheva (80-91 liters). The high consumption in Kfar Shmaryahu and Savyon are explained by private swimming pools and large lawns, which demand large volumes of water.

Jerusalem is at the low end of the ranking, measuring 110 liters per capita per day together with Kabul and Betar Illit. Compared to other towns in its metropolitan area, Jerusalem also ranks quite low and is at the bottom of the list, while Har Adar, at the top of the list, consumes nearly 2.5 times as much.

An interesting anecdote in this context is that a significant increase in water consumption is registered just prior to the time Shabbat comes in, since many of the city’s households prepare for Shabbat with activities that include dishwashing, showering, filling water urns, etc. The increased use of water in a short window of time sometimes results in burst sewage pipes.