The country’s water basins have crept up to promising levels in the course of
the rainy winter season, with Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) now lacking
less than 2 meters of water to reach full capacity.
By Tuesday morning,
the Kinneret reached 210.765 meters below sea level, just 1.965 meters from the
“upper red line,” or full capacity, data from the Water Authority’s Hydrological
This represented a rise of 1.5 centimeters from the
previous morning’s readings and an additional 2 centimeters from the day before,
when the lake lacked 2 meters exactly following a stormy Saturday
During the nearly week-long storm that pounded Israel earlier this
month, the Kinneret rose 73 centimeters, an increase that was unparalleled for
this period of time going back two decades.
All in all this January, the
basin has risen 1.1 meters, and during the entire winter season thus far – 1.65
meters, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post
It is likely that the Kinneret level will peak this season at about half a meter
below the upper red line, Schor said.
“That’s not only because of the
rain,” he said. “That’s because the change in policy of the Water Authority. We
are pumping from Kinneret less than half of the average pump that we had
previously done. The policy is to try to revive the natural sources of
The Water Authority has been able to reduce the amount of water
being pumped out of the Kinneret by the National Water Carrier due to the
significantly increased amounts of desalinated and treated wastewater being
employed in the country.
Prof. Eran Feitelson, of the geography
department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, likewise stressed that the
increased desalination has allowed the Water Authority to keep much more
freshwater in the Kinneret basin. Going forward, it is crucial to continue to
conserve water to recharge the aquifers, and to expand the capacity of existing
desalination facilities, Feitelson said.
Calling the forecasts for
another session of heavy rain “just wonderful,” Israel director of Friends of
the Earth Middle East (FOEME) Gidon Bromberg said that he hoped for snow as well
in this week’s storm.
“With more snow it means we will have water for
weeks as that snow melts,” he said.
With the welcome rising levels of
Kinneret basin, the country could benefit from releasing some of that added
freshwater to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River, once the river’s sewage is
cleaned, Bromberg said, citing a new FOEME road map prepared in conjunction with
Dutch consultancy firm DHV.
“With the dramatic reduction in pumping from
the Sea of Galilee, not only in this great year of rain, but even in average
years of rain, the Sea of Galilee is likely to be a very healthy lake with high
potential for overflow to supply to the Lower Jordan River,” Bromberg
The FOEME road map calls for managing flow to the Lower Jordan
River in a consistent matter, with the water supply eventually reaching the Dead
Sea, he explained.
“I think it’s time for the public to understand that
the water economy is capable of releasing water on a monthly basis, to
rehabilitate the Lower Jordan and benefit from a whole lot of tourism gains,”
While Israel should be returning 210 million cubic meters
per year from the Kinneret to the Jordan River, the government has only pledged
to release 30 million cubic meters annually – and this only after the sewage is
removed, he added.
As far as resuming flow to the Jordan River goes,
however, Feitelson said that the rising quantities in the Kinneret are still
insufficient to serve this purpose. “The whole point of the Kinneret rising was
not to have water flowing out,” he added.
Rehabilitating the Jordan River
needs to occur through means other than freshwater, as the country’s aquifers in
total still lack more than 1 billion cubic meters of natural water, Schor
“We can’t afford to waste it,” he said. “But we are giving
much more freshwater altogether to nature and to agriculture, and by recovering
the natural sources you automatically recover all the flow of the springs and
While Bromberg agreed that if such a Kinneret rise only
occurs once in a decade then it would be insignificant, sustainable management
of water resources can allow for the release of water down the Jordan.
matter what is done with the Kinneret water, however, all of the experts agreed
that people cannot be complacent about water conservation simply because of this
“We’ve made that mistake already in the past. It doesn’t
mean we should do it again,” Feitelson said. “It doesn’t mean we can
Stressing that the country still needs a few more rainy events
this season, Feitelson noted that “just because it was a good January doesn’t
mean it will be a good February and March and so on.”
should continue treating water as a source of life and something that doesn’t
come naturally enough in this area,” Schor agreed.
Demand for water in
Israel will always be higher than what the country will receive by rain, and
expensive desalination and water recycling facilities therefore will continue to
play a crucial role, he explained.
“We must always treat water in this
area as an expensive resource and we must keep an eye on it,” Schor
An incoming storm will likely bring showers and thunderstorms all
over the country on Monday night, with scattered light showers from the North to
the northern Negev continuing through Tuesday – accompanied by a slight
temperature drop, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
drenching much of the country on Tuesday, rain and occasional thunderstorms will
likely continue in the North and along the coast on Wednesday, with snow
covering Mount Hermon, IMS data said.
For Thursday, the IMS forecasted
frequent showers in most of Israel accompanied by strong winds and scattered
storms, with a risk of flash floods in the East and the South. As temperatures
drop to colder than typical all around the country, the Hermon will likely
continue to receive snow, IMS data reported. Rain will presumably fall from the
North to the northern Negev on Friday, gradually weakening throughout the day,
the IMS said.
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