The Knesset's Economics Committee voted Thursday to forbid water corporations from cutting off water supply to clients over debts. The changes will go into effect on March 31.
"I am glad that at long last, we have put an end to the disgrace of water disconnection in the state of Israel, which usually harms the economically weaker populations, which are unable to pay the monthly fees,” said Committee Chairman MK Avishai Braverman (Labor).
“I read yesterday about a mother who said that there is no water in the shower for her son when he returns from the army, and that there is not enough water to swallow a pill, and the heart aches,” he added. “I cannot think of a more basic right than water.”
The change was made possible when the Water Authority accepted the committee's position, after a year of deliberation. Braverman thanked Labor MKs Eitan Cabel and Itzik Shmoley, as well as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a New Israel Fund organization (NIF), and Yedid, which is also linked to the NIF through its founder-director, for assisting in lobbying for the change.
According to the new regulations, an advisory committee to the Water Authority will be established. It will include two representatives of the public, one of whom is a social worker and another who is an expert on household economy and income tests, as well as two representatives of the Water Authority, one of whom is a lawyer who is eligible to serve as a Magistrates' Court judge.
The water corporations will appeal to the committee only with regard to debts over NIS 1,000. The corporations will have to prove that they tried to collect the debt in every possible way except for disconnection, and the client will have the right to appear before the committee and make his case.