Monday, November 26, 2018

Water Works

Dafna Shemer

Last winter was exceptionally dry, but we still have water in our pipes. In Jerusalem, classified as socio-economic cluster 3, the residents consume an average of 38 cubic meters of water per capita each year, much less than Tel Aviv, where on average the per capita consumption of water is 66 cubic meters (Tel Aviv is in cluster 8), and less than Haifa, where annual per capita consumption of water is 45 cubic meters (Haifa is in cluster 7). Per capita water consumption in Jerusalem is low compared to most local authorities in the Jerusalem environs, and higher than only Betar Ilit (36 cubic meters per capita) and Modi'in Ilit (35 cubic meters), both of which are in cluster 1. The highest rate of water consumption in the Jerusalem area is in Har Adar (cluster 9) where the rate is 91 cubic meters annually.

To test our hypothesis that the higher the socio-economic cluster, the greater the water consumption, we examined the data pertaining all local authorities.

Our examination of water consumption reveals that there is a correlation between socio-economic levels and water consumption, excluding local authorities in cluster 6. Their average water consumption is higher than that in local authorities in cluster 8. We found that in Eilat, which is designated as cluster 6, water consumption per capita is especially high. This is due to the numerous hotels in the city – the number of tourists, higher than the total number of inhabitants, is not included in the per-capita water consumption calculation. Thus it seems as if each resident consumes double the amount of water, compared to a resident of a local authority in cluster 9. We re-checked our figures, calculating only residential water consumption, and confirmed our hypothesis: the higher the socio-economic status of a local authority, the greater is its water consumption.

In the last ranking Jerusalem dropped from cluster 4 (in 2008) to cluster 3 (in 2013), and we checked whether there was a correlation between the downgrade in its socio-economic cluster and its per capita water consumption. Based on data from the local authorities for 2006 and 2016, it emerges that there has been a decrease in water consumption in almost all local authorities, with a 13% reduction in Jerusalem. In Kiryat Malachi and Ofakim, both of which also dropped from cluster 4 to cluster 3, water consumption decreased by 14% and 19% respectively. However, there was a decrease in almost all local authorities, with no corresponding change in socio-economic levels. We may assume that water consumption is an indication of socio-economic status, but that additional factors, such as the national campaign to conserve water, also have an effect on consumption.

In Jerusalem, the assessment of water consumption also helps to estimate population size in neighborhoods beyond the Security Fence, which have undergone dramatic changes since the wall was erected, and one way to gauge the size of the population is via its water consumption. 

Translated by Gilah Kahn

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