The Cost of Covering Costs: A Nationwide Model for Water Pricing

A. Reznik, E. Feinerman, I. Finkelshtain, I. Kan, F. Fisher, A. Huber-Lee, B. Joyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study offers a high-resolution model of nationwide water supply. The model is sufficiently detailed to represent all main water sources in an economy, the principal segments of the conveyance system, urban, industrial and agricultural demand regions, and various water types, including fresh, saline and recycled. Calibrated for Israeli 2010 data, we find that the optimal extraction of fresh water is only 2% larger than the total observed supply from those sources. However, for some specific sources, the deviation between optimal and observed quantities is significant. Assuming average constant recharge, the optimal aggregated desalination is 57% of the 2010 desalination capacity and only 33% of the present desalination capacity. Even with an assumed 40% decline in recharge (for example, due to climate change), the model uses only 50% of the present desalination capacity. This may suggest that the construction of desalination facilities in Israel, which began in 2005, could have been delayed. The model establishes a comprehensive system of pumping levies and user fees that support the optimal allocation. However, due to considerable scale economies, the average cost is almost 50% larger than the marginal cost. The implications are that the welfare cost of the recent Israeli Balanced Budget Water Economy legislation is more than 100 million USD per year, about 10% of the water economy share of the GDP.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1650024
JournalWater Economics and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 World Scientific Publishing Company.


  • Natural resources
  • model
  • pricing
  • water economy


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