The Water Law of 1959
(Summary, Translation of Chapters One and Two)

The Water Law of 1959 establishes a framework for the control and protection of Israel’s water resources. Water Rights.

– All sources of water in Israel are public property. A person’s land rights do not confer rights to any water sources running through or under his land.

– Every person is entitled to use water, as long as that use does not cause the salination or depletion of the water resource.

Authority.

The provisions of the Water Law were originally executed by the Minister of Agriculture, the Water Commissioner and the Water Board. After the establishment of the Ministry of the Environment, authority was transferred to the Minister of the Environment to promulgate regulations to protect water quality and prevent water pollution.

– Water use is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture is responsible to:

* "Prescribe norms for the quantity, quality, price, conditions of supply and use of water…and rules for the efficient and economic utilization of water…"

* Establish regulations concerning "protective strips" around water resources, "for the purpose of preserving any water, water source, water works or any installation for the extraction, storage or conveyance of water…entry to and passage through which shall be prohibited except under a permit from the Water Commissioner…."

* Ration water when necessary.

– The Minister of the Environment is authorized to:

* Promulgate regulations, in coordination with other government ministers, to prevent the pollution of water resources. (See Article 20, below).

– The Water Commissioner, appointed by the Government, has responsibility for enforcement of the Water Law and Water Regulations, and for maintenance of water quality. The Commissioner is authorized to:

* Order a person not in compliance with the water conservation requirements to meet those requirements.

* Take measures to prevent damage to a water source resulting from non-compliance. The cost of the Commissioner’s actions are to be charged to the offender.

* Establish a "protective strip" around a water source where he deems it necessary, according to the rules enacted by the Minister of Agriculture (see above).

* Approve or reject plans submitted for the disposal of sewage, or, when the person ordered to submit a plan does not do so in the prescribed time period, prepare his own plan for sewage disposal. (See Article 20 below)

* Set conditions for the prevention of water pollution in consultation with the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister of the Environment. Take necessary actions to stop water pollution, and restore polluted water sources to their original quality. (See Article 20 below)

– The Water Board is chaired by the Minister of Agriculture. The Water Commissioner serves as deputy chairperson. The Board is charged with:

* Advising the Minister of Agriculture on matters of policy and prevention of pollution.

* Approving regulations concerning water quality, price, conditions of supply and rationing.

– The Tribunal for Water Affairs, established by the Ministry of Justice, may impose fines, or, in extreme cases of non-compliance, prison sentences, to those who contravene the provisions of the Water Law or the Drainage and Flood Control Law. The Tribunal is located at the Haifa District Court. In addition, the Tribunal:

* Hears appeals from individuals who feel that they have been wrongly charged expenses for the conservation of, or damage to a water source.

* Hears appeals from those who feel aggrieved by the establishment of a protective strip around a water source.

Conservation of Water.

The Law contains a generic requirement to conserve water and prevent its waste.

Recharge.

The Water Law sets out the rules and regulations concerning the "planned introduction into the subsoil of water from any water source…" for the purposes of replenishment of a water source, water storage, or any other purpose determined necessary by the Minister of Agriculture.

Prevention of Water Pollution.

Chapters One and Two of the Water Law, dealing with the preservation of water and the prevention of water pollution, are reproduced here in full:

Chapter One: Preliminary
Water resources and purpose thereof Definitions 1. The water resources in the State are public property; they are subject to the control of the State and are destined for the requirements of its inhabitants and for the development of the country.
What are water resources 2. For the purposes of this Law, "water resources" means springs, streams, rivers, lakes and other currents and accumulations of water, whether above ground or underground, whether natural, regulated or made, and whether water rises, flows or stands therein at all times or intermittently, and includes drainage water and sewage water.
Private person’s right to water 3. Every person is entitled to receive and use water, subject to the provisions of this Law.
Relationship between land and water 4. A person’s right in any land does not confer on him a right in a water resource situated therein or crossing it or abutting thereon; but the provision of this section shall not derogate from the right of any person under section 3.
Water resource must not be depleted 5. A person’s right to receive water from a water resource is valid so long as the receipt of water from that water resource does not lead to the salination or depletion thereof.
Linking of right 6. Every right to water is linked to one of the to purpose water purposes enumerated hereunder; the right to water ceases upon the cessation of the purpose. The purposes are:

(1) domestic purposes;
(2) agriculture;
(3) industry;
(4) handicraft, commerce and services; (5) public services.

Applicability 7. For the purposes of this Law, it shall be immaterial whether a right to water was created by law including this Law or by agreement or custom or in any other manner, or whether it was created before or after the coming into force of this Law.

Chapter Two: Regulation of the Use of Water

Article 1: Preservation of Water
Definitions 8. In this chapter:

"depletion of water resource" includes the lowering of the level of water, whether above ground or underground, and the impairment of the possibility of raising water to the surface or of conveying water from place to place.

Rules for the preservation of water 9. A person shall: (1) deal efficiently and sparingly with water coming into his control;
(2) keep any water installations under his control in proper condition so as to prevent the waste of water;
(3) refrain from obstructing or depleting any water source;
(4) refrain from the obstruction or depletion of a water resource from which he produces water.

10. Void.

Powers of the Water Commissioner in respect of preservation of water 11. Where the Water Commissioner appointed under section 138 (hereinafter referred to as "the Water Commissioner") is satisfied that any of the provisions of section 9 is not being complied with, he may: (1) order the person bound to comply with the provision to rectify the situation in accordance with the order and, if the situation is not rectified within a reasonable time, do whatever necessary to rectify it and order the discontinuance or restriction of the production, supply or consumption of water, as the circumstances may require, pending rectification of the situation.

(2) take steps to prevent immediate serious damage to a water resource if such damage cannot be prevented in any other way.

Charging of the expenditure 12. The Water Commissioner may, by order, charge expenditure incurred by him for the purposes of action under section 11 to the person who was bound to comply with the provisions of section 9, and upon his doing so such expenditure shall be recovered as if it were a tax to which the Taxes (Collection) Ordinance, except section 12 thereof, applies.
Objection 13. A person who considers himself aggrieved by an order under section 11 or by the charging of expenditure under section 12 may lodge an objection with the Tribunal established under section 140 (hereinafter "the Tribunal"). The objection shall not stay the enforcement of the order unless the Tribunal orders the stay thereof; but expenditure shall not be recovered under section 12 until the Tribunal has determined the objection.
Dimensions of protective strips 14. The Minister of Agriculture may, after consultation with the Water Board appointed under section 125 (hereinafter referred to as "the Water Board"), prescribe rules concerning the width and area of protective strips; and upon his doing so, the Water Commissioner shall not prescribe a protective strip save within the scope of those rules and not beyond what is necessary for the achievement of the purpose for which the protective strip has been prescribed.
Prescribing of protective strips 15. Where the Water Commissioner deems it necessary to do so for the purpose of preserving any water, water resource, water supply system or installation for the production, storage or conveyance of water he may, by order, prescribe around or at the sides of the water resource or installation a protective strip, entry to and passage through which shall be prohibited except under a permit from the Water Commissioner and in accordance with the conditions of the permit.
Objection 16. A person who considers himself aggrieved by the prescribing of a protective strip, by the refusal of the Water Commissioner to grant a permit under section 15 or by the conditions of such a permit may lodge objection with the Tribunal.
Right of entry, authorized inspection, etc. 17. The Water Commissioner, or any person by him in that behalf in writing, may enter any place upon written advance notice to the occupier thereof, and do therein any act required for the supervision of a water resource or for the preservation of water; he may also act with a view to uncovering, or to inspecting land, vegetation and other local conditions for the purpose of determining water requirements.
Compensation 18. A person to whom damage has been caused by the prescribing of a protective strip or by any act under section 17, is entitled to compensation from the Treasury; in the absence of agreement between the person demanding compensation and the Water Commissioner concerning the compensation or the amount or terms of payment thereof, the Tribunal shall decide.
Depleted water resource 19. (a) Where the Water Commissioner is satisfied that a water resource is being depleted to the extent that its yield, on regular production, is not sufficient for the maintenance of the supply of the ordinary quantity of water therefrom, he may, with the approval of the Minister of Agriculture, order the water producer to restrict production from that source or order the regulation of production or the adoption of other emergency measures to ensure the supply of water, as he may see fit in the circumstances of the case.

(b) The approval of the Minister of Agriculture for an order under subsection (a) shall be given after consultation with the Water Board unless in the opinion of the Minister immediate action is required; in that case, the matter shall be brought to the knowledge of the Water Board within a reasonable time after making the order.

(c) If the order is not complied with within a reasonable time prescribed therein, the Water Commissioner may, after written warning, himself do whatever is necessary and, upon doing so, recover the expenditure involved from the person to whom the order is addressed.

Unutilized water conduit 20. Where the Water Commissioner is satisfied that a water resource of a supplier or producer has become depleted or that a resource or installation under their control is flawed in a way that prevents the output of an amount sufficient to supply the normal requirements thereof, he may order an owner of a conduit or channel to carry water that is not used by him, to carry water for the supplier or producer or his customers; where the sides do not agree as to the amount of water, the conditions, or terms of payment, the Water Commissioner will decide.

Article 1A: Prevention of Water Pollution
Definitions 20A. In this article

"water pollution" means a change in the properties of water in a water resource in physical, chemical, organoleptic, biological, bacteriological, radioactive or other respect, or a change as a result of which water is dangerous to public health or likely to harm animal or plant life or less suitable for the purpose for which it is used or intended to be used;

"water resource" has the meaning assigned to this term in section 2, but includes also water carriers, both open and closed, water reservoirs and drainage channels;

"pollution element" means an industrial or agricultural undertaking, building within the meaning of the Planning and Building Law, 5725-1965, installation (including sewerage installation), machine and means of transport to the location, establishment, operation, maintenance or use of which causes or may cause water pollution.

"Article 1A" includes the regulations and orders promulgated through it.

Prohibition of water pollution 20B. (a) A person shall refrain from any act which directly or indirectly causes, or may cause, immediate or subsequent water pollution; and it shall be immaterial whether or not the water resource was polluted before the act.

(b) A person shall not throw, or cause to flow, into or near a water resource any liquid, solid, or gaseous substance or deposit any such substance in or near it.

Prevention of water pollution in water installation 20C. A person who has under his control any installation for the production, supply, transportation or storage of water or for recharging subsoil water resources shall take all reasonable measures to prevent such installation or its operation from causing water pollution.
Regulations to prevent water pollution 20D. (a) To prevent water pollution and protect resources from pollution, the Minister of Environment may, after consultation with the Water Board, make regulations prescribing, inter alia, restrictions, prohibitions, conditions and other provisions as to

(1) the location and establishment of specified pollution elements; such regulations shall require the approval of the Economic Committee of the Knesset;

(2) the use of certain substances or methods in the production processes, operation and use of a pollution element, including soil cultivation and also fertilizer application and crop spraying; any such regulations shall be made in consultation with the Minister of Health;

(3) the manufacture, importation, distribution and marketing of certain substances and products; such regulations shall be made in consultation with the Minister of Commerce and Industry and prior notice thereof shall be given to the Economic Committee of the Knesset;

(4) the regulation of the movement, stoppage and use of means of transport on or near water resources; such regulations shall be made with the consent of the Minister of Transport.

(b) Regulations under this section shall not derogate from the obligations imposed by section 20B and 20C.

Disposal of sewage from pollution element 20E. (a) A person who has under his control any pollution element the operation or use of which requires the disposal of sewage therefrom shall, upon the order of the Water Commissioner, submit for his approval a scheme detailing the mode of disposal, nature, quality and chemical, physical and biological composition of the sewage and any other particular demanded by the Water Commissioner. The Water Commissioner may refrain from approving the scheme, vary it or attach such conditions to it as he may think fit.

(b) Where a person has been ordered to submit a scheme as referred to in subsection (a), no sewage shall be disposed of so long as the scheme has not been approved; provided that the Water Commissioner may issue directions for a temporary mode of disposal pending approval of the scheme.

(c) Where a scheme for the disposal of sewage has been approved, sewage may only be disposed of in accordance therewith.

(d) Where a person has been ordered to submit a scheme as referred to in subsection (a) and he has not done so within the time prescribed in the order, or the scheme has not been approved, or he has not carried out changes in the scheme that have been required of him or he has not fulfilled the conditions attached to the scheme, the Water Commissioner may prepare a sewage disposal scheme for him, and upon his doing so, the person shall bear the cost of preparing the scheme; the Taxes (Collection) Ordinance, except section 12 thereof, shall apply to the collection of such cost.

(e) Before the expiration of one month from the date prescribed for the submission of the scheme, changes will be carried out or conditions will be fulfilled, as the case may be.

(f) The Water Commissioner shall not exercise his power under subsection

(g) A person for whom the Water Commissioner has prepared a scheme under subsection (d) shall not dispose of sewage from the pollution element save in accordance with such scheme.

(h) In every matter relating to the exercise of his powers under this section, the Water Commissioner shall first consult with a person empowered in that behalf by the Minister of Health.

Laying down conditions as to prevention of water pollution 20F. In approvals, licenses and permits granted under this Law or the Drainage and Flood Control Law, 5718-1957, the Minister of the Environment or the Water Commissioner, as the case may be, may lay down conditions as to the prevention of water pollution.
Remedial measures 20G. (a) Where the Water Commissioner is satisfied that water pollution has been caused, he may order the person who caused it to do everything necessary to stop it, to restore the position which existed before it was caused and to prevent its recurrence, all as specified in the order.

(b) If within a reasonable time prescribed in an order under subsection (a) the provisions thereof are not complied with, the Water Commissioner may do everything specified in the order, and upon his doing so, the person who has failed to comply with the order shall bear the cost involved; the provisions of the Taxes (Collection) Ordinance, except section 12 thereof, shall apply to the collection of such cost.

Stop order 20H. (a) Where after being warned a person causes water pollution or disregards a direction issued to him under the provisions of this article or contravenes any of the provisions thereof or any regulation or order made thereunder, the Water Commissioner may order the discontinuance or restriction of the production, supply or consumption of water or may refrain from allocating water (any such measure hereinafter referred to as a "stop order"): Provided that a person shall not thereby be deprived of drinking water.

(b) The stop order shall be in force so long as pollution has not stopped, the position which existed before it was caused restored and measures to prevent its recurrence adopted: Provided that the Water Commissioner may cancel the order, subject to conditions or unconditionally, if it is proved to him that the person to whom the order is addressed is doing everything necessary to stop the water pollution, to restore the former position and to prevent a recurrence of water pollution or if the person to whom the order is addressed has given him security, to his satisfaction, for carrying out the said operations within a reasonable time.

(c) Where a stop order may affect the customers of a supplier to whom it is addressed, it shall not be made until the Water Commissioner has arranged for a proper supply of water to those customers so long as the order is in force and on conditions prescribed by him.

Stop order in special cases 20I. Where the Water Commissioner finds that water pollution has been or is likely to be caused by circumstances beyond the control of any person and that the situation requires, inter alia, the making of a stop order, the stop order shall not be made until the Water commissioner has, as far as possible, arranged for a normal supply of water, on conditions prescribed by him and so long as the order is in force, to all those whose water supply is discontinued or restricted as a result of the order.
Emergency powers 20J. Where the Water Commissioner is satisfied that serious water pollution has been or is likely to be caused and that the situation requires, inter alia, the immediate discontinuance or restriction of the production, supply or consumption of water from a particular water resource, he may take all measures deemed appropriate by him in the circumstances of the case in order to stop or prevent the water pollution or its effects and for this purpose may use force to the extent necessary.
Authorizing order 20K. (a) Where after consultation with a person empowered in that behalf by the Minister of Health the Commissioner is satisfied

(1) that a particular operation is intended for the melioration, improvement of the quality, disinfection or mixing of water, for the prevention of danger to the public or the like or for the passage of substances in the water for a purpose approved by him in advance; or

(2) that the circumstances of the case leave no choice but to enable discharge of sewage into a particular water resource for a determinate period which shall be specified,

Such operation or discharge shall not be regarded as water pollution within the meaning of this article if it is carried out in accordance with an authorizing order made by the Water commissioner for this purpose.

(b) In an authorizing order, the Water Commissioner may prescribe conditions, restrictions and limitations, either at the time of making the order or at a later date, and upon his doing so, the person to whom the order has been granted shall act in accordance with such conditions, restrictions and limitations.

(c) An authorizing order under subsection (a) (2) shall be personal and set out the reasons therefor and shall be in force for one year; Provided that the Water Commissioner may from time to time extend it for reasons which shall be specified.

(d) The Water commissioner may, after consultation with a person empowered in that behalf by the Minister of Health, cancel an authorizing order or vary the conditions, restrictions and limitations prescribed therein if the circumstances of the case have changed or he finds that the public interest so requires or it appears to him that the order or the conditions, restrictions or limitations prescribed therein have been infringed.

(e) The Water Commissioner shall deliver to the Economic Committee of the Knesset, at the times prescribed by it, but at least once a year, a report on the authorizing orders made by him.

(f) A list of the authorizing orders made by the Water Commissioner shall be open for inspection by the public free of charge.

Conferment of Water powers 20L. (a) The Minister of the Environment or the Commissioner, as the case may be, may confer powers under this article or any part thereof, except the power to make regulations having legislative effect and the power to make stop orders or authorizing orders, upon a water authority, a drainage authority, a local authority or an association of towns (each hereinafter referred to as an "authority") in respect of anything relating to the prevention of water pollution in its area.

(b) Authorities as referred to in subsection (a) which have a common interest in the prevention of water pollution in their areas may combine into a body corporate with a view to its being granted powers as aforesaid for the prevention of water pollution in which such areas.

(c) A conferment of powers under subsection (a) or (b) shall be made with the consent of the authority on which they are conferred and, in the case of a conferment of powers on a local authority or association of towns or on a body corporate as referred to in subsection (b) which includes a local authority or association of towns, with the consent also of the Minister of the Interior.

(d) At the time of conferring powers under subsection (a) or (b), the Minister of the Environment or the Water Commissioner, as the case may be, shall by order prescribe the powers to be conferred.

(e) Where any power has been conferred on an authority under subsection (a) or on a body corporate under subsection (b) the authority or body corporate shall be competent to act notwithstanding any limitation existing under law or otherwise.

Provisions as to quality of water 20M. (a) The Minister of the Environment may, after consultation with the Water Board, enact by regulations provisions as to the quality of water, including flood-water and sewage water, for different purposes, except the sanitary quality of drinking water, within the meaning of Part VI of the Public Health Ordinance, 1940.

(b) Regulations under subsection (a) shall, in so far as they relate to public health, be made after consultation with the Minister of Health.

(c) Where regulations under subsection (a) have been made, the Water Commissioner shall not permit the production, supply or consumption of water for the different purposes and uses save in accordance with the said regulations; and he may prohibit the production, supply or consumption of water which does not conform to those regulations, or may change the purpose of such water, provided that it is suitable for the new purpose.

Saving of obligations 20N. The provisions of this article shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other enactment relating to water pollution.
General and special orders 20O. Save as otherwise provided in this article, an order thereunder may be general or to a particular person or class of persons or in respect of a particular pollution element or class of pollution elements or in respect of part of a pollution element.
Area of application 20P. Regulations and orders under this article may apply in the whole area of the State or in any part thereof or in respect of a particular water resource, as may be specified in the regulations or orders; advance notice shall be given to the Economic Committee of the Knesset of any order applied to part of the area of the State.
Acts relating to drinking water 20Q. The provisions of this article shall not derogate from the provisions of Part VI of the Public Health Ordinance, 1940, as to anything relating to drinking water.
Right of objection 20R. (a) A person who considers himself aggrieved by the exercise of the powers of the Minister of the Environment or the Water Commissioner under the provisions of this article or by his refusal to exercise his powers as aforesaid or by the exercise of a power conferred on an authority or body corporate within the meaning of section 20L or by a refusal to exercise any such power may lodge objection with the Tribunal within twenty-one days from the day on which the fact of the exercise or refusal came to his knowledge.

(b) The lodging of objection under this article shall not stay the carrying out of the act objected to unless the Tribunal so directs; however, where collection of the cost is permitted under the provisions of this article, it may only be collected after the Tribunal has decided on the objection and in accordance with the results of the decision.

(c) The provisions of subsection (b) shall not derogate from the provisions of section 153.

Transition period 20S. (a) In exercising his powers under this article, the Minister of the Environment or the Water Commissioner, as the case may be, may have regard to the period of time which in his opinion, in the circumstances of the case, is required in order to enable any person, including a person who has a pollution element under his control, to adapt his activities or the pollution element in his possession to the circumstances created by the publication of this article.

(b) The period of time referred to in subsection (a) shall not exceed six months from the day on which this article comes into force.

Duty to make report 20T. The Water Commissioner shall once in each year deliver to the Economic Committee of the Knesset a report on the situation with regard to water pollution and on the action taken to prevent it.
Penalties relating to Article 1A 20U. A person who contravenes any of the provisions of Article 1A is liable to imprisonment for one year or a fine of 150,000 new shekels; and in the case of a continuing offense, to imprisonment for seven days or an additional fine of 10,000 new shekels in respect of every day on which the offense continues after he has been warned in writing by the person whom the Minister of the Environment has authorized for such purpose and subject to the date of the warning.
Responsibilities of members of a corporation 20V. Where an offense according to section 20U is committed by a corporation, every person who at the time of its commission was a manager, partner (except for a limited partner), or senior official responsible for the matter in question shall also be guilty thereof, unless he can prove that the offense was committed without his knowledge and that he took all reasonable measures to prevent or stop the offense.
Authority of the Court 20W. (a) If there exists a suspicion that an offense has been committed according to section 20U, the Court may, in response to a request by the prosecutor, even before an indictment has been served, issue a temporary order to prevent, stop, or reduce water pollution, against those suspected or accused of causing water pollution. For the purposes of subsections (a) through (d), "the Court" means the court authorized to hear the matter of the offense.

(b) The Court may not issue an order according to subsection (a) until the accused or suspected offenders, as the case may be, have had an opportunity to state their case; if the accused or suspected offenders do not appear at the hearing despite the fact that they were properly invited, the court may decide on the matter in their absence.

(c) An order issued according to subsection (a) will be valid for a period of time determined by the Court and may persist until the end of the proceedings in the matter; an order issued before an indictment is served will be valid for a period of seven days unless an indictment is served within that time.

(d) If new facts have come to light or if the circumstances of the matter have changed, and these are likely to cause the Court to change its previous ruling, a suspect, accused, or prosecutor may apply to the Court to reconsider its decision as to a request according to subsection (a).

(e) A suspect, accused or prosecutor may appeal a decision as to a request according to subsection (a) or as to a decision of the Court in an application for reconsideration; the Appeals Court will hear the appeal by one judge.

(f) A request for reconsideration or appeal will be in writing, and will contain a summary of arguments and copies of the previous decisions in the matter.

(g) While hearing a request for reconsideration or an appeal, the Court may confirm, modify or cancel the decision being considered, or replace it with another decision.

(h) For the purposes of this section

"order" means a mandatory order or an injunction

"prosecutor" means (1) as defined in section 12 of the Criminal Procedures (Consolidated Version) Law, 1982 (2) a complainant according to section 20Y after he has filed a complaint.

Cost of expenses and cleaning 20X. A court which has convicted a person of an offense according to section 20U may, in its sentence, in addition to any other punishment it may impose, require the convicted to pay for:

(1) the cleaning of the water and anything else polluted in the committing of the offense, if the person who incurred the expense submits a request to the court; if more than one person is convicted, the Court may require some or all of them to pay, jointly or severally, or may divide the sum between them, according to the circumstances of the matter.

(2) the undertaking of the steps necessary to (a) stop, limit or prevent the continuing pollution of the water; (b) clean the water and anything polluted resulting from the committing of the offense; (c) restore the environment to its previous condition.

Complaints 20Y. (a) The following may register a complaint as stated in Criminal Procedures (Consolidated Version) Law, 1982 in regards to an offense according to Article 1A: (1) Any person who has been directly injured as a result of the offense. (2) A local authority in whose jurisdiction an offense has been committed.

(b) A person may not register a complaint according to subsection (a) unless the complainant has declared to the Minister of the Environment his intention to file a complaint, and within six days the Attorney General has not filed an indictment.

Applicability to the State 20Z. Article 1A applies to the State.