Another clash between Pilate and the Jewish authorities arose out of his construction of an aqueduct to augment the city’s water supply. The construction of this aqueduct, carrying water from the southern highlands to Jerusalem, was the one positive boon that his governorship brought to Jerusalem. The temple in particular benefited from it, because it continually required an exceptionally large water supply – not only for the ritual ablutions prescribed for the priests but also for keeping the are clean and fresh after the incessant slaughtering and sacrifice of animals which went on there.
Pilate therefore- very naturally from his point of view- demanded that payment for the cost of the aqueduct be made from the Temple treasury. The Temple authorities protested that it was an act of sacrilege to appropriate for such a secular purpose money which had been dedicated to God; but Pilate insisted that they should pay what he demanded, and raided the fund into which each adult Jewish male throughout the world contributed half a shekel annualy for the sacrificial services. Crowds of indignant Jews gathered in protest against the sacrilege, but their demonstration was forcibly broken up by the procurator’s troops.
F.F. Bruce, New Testament History ( New York 1972 ) p.36- 37- slightly rearranged.