Water Pollution - The Legal Perspective
Water - Journal of the Water Engineers Association Vol. 12
Tzvi Levinson, Advocate
The Israeli Water Act of 1959 is the statutory instrument that regulates all aspects of water almost. Two principles lie at its core: Water are a resource owned by the public and controlled by the state. The sources of water are both those above ground and underground, natural and artificial, and include flood water, drainage water and wastewater. Too many authorities hold powers in regard to water, some hold powers to ensure water quality and the prevention of their pollution, others to supervise over their rationing and distribution. A jungle of "red tape" thus makes water administration almost impossible. An essential part of a water prevention scheme is the monitoring of water quality. To finance these activities there is need for a statutory fund maintained by a tax imposed on users of water or on potential water polluters. Another goal of such a fund is to enable the authorities to effectively handle emergencies (e.g. an oil spill) or to finance actions they took on behalf of the person who was required to take them. The Superfund of the American Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) may serve as a model. Water quality standards are the basis for defining what will constitute water pollution and for setting goals for the clean-up of already polluted water sources. To the present time Israeli Water Legislation has set standards for the following: The quality of potable water The quality required of the treated sanitary wastewater of large sources The quality required of industrial wastewater before they are discharged to a municipal sewerage system. Water pollution is an everyday phenomenon, whose extent is rapidly growing. There is no dispute that prevention is much cheaper than abatement of an existing nuisance. There is also wide-spread agreement on the pressing need for a comprehensive scheme to prevent water pollution, without which it is only a matter of time till the state of our water will experience a major crisis. These parameters ought to define the extent of statutory protection to water sources.