Netanyahu steps into Ashdod desalination argument

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered Israel's national water authority, Mekorot, the Finance Ministry and the Infrastructure Ministry to submit proposals for a cost-effective desalination plant in Ashdod within 30 days, according to Israel National News (Arutz Sheva).

A tender was originally launched by Mekorot Development & Enterprise on 1 February 2009, and the Mekorot subsidiary announced on 18 November 2009 that the IVM consortium, comprising Minrav Holding Ltd. and Spain's Sadyt, had won the international tender.

Almost immediately, an inter-ministerial tenders committee decided the state would only pay NIS 2.36 (US$ 0.64)/m³ of water, while Mekorot's model was based on a price of NIS 2.86 (US$ 0.78)/m³. The dispute, also involving the Finance Ministry, has rumbled on since then.

Arutz Sheva quotes Netanyahu as saying, "It is inconceivable that the desalination plant, which is due to be advanced by Mekorot, has been stuck for years due to bureaucracy. It is unacceptable that the price the public will pay for water will be inflated."

The Israeli government has promised new desalination plants in Ashdod and Sorek to be built by 2012. The country currently has four major desalination plants in Ashkelon, Eilat, Hadera and Palmachim.

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