Kinneret reaches lowest red line

Recent rains no cause for celebration as only 11 centimeters added to lake since last Thursday.

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
March 2, 2010 04:50
2 minute read.
Kinneret reaches lowest red line

kinneret caption! 224.88. (photo credit: Jonathan Beck)

The Water Authority strongly urged the public not to be complacent, even as Lake Kinneret rose to the former low “red line” on Monday for the first time since July 2008.

The weekend’s heavy rains have added 11 centimeters to the lake since Thursday, Water Authority Spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post Monday.

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The low red line used to be the point of no return for Lake Kinneret until the past five years pushed the water level even lower and the Water Authority created the “black line,” the point where irreversible damage begins to occur at a rapid pace.

The Kinneret has not ever passed that point yet, but it took over a year and a half to return to the lowest red line – however briefly.

“It was fantastic rain,” Schor acknowledged. “Three centimeters have fallen since yesterday. That doesn’t change the probability that during the summer we will drop below the lowest red line once again.”

“Lake Kinneret is still 4.21 meters from being topped up,” he said, “and an ideal situation would be 2.5-3 meters above the lowest red line,” which shows just how far the lake needs to go to improve the situation.

The mountain and coastal aquifers have also benefited from the rainfall, though somewhat unevenly. While the northern portions of the aquifers have received above-average rainfall, the southern portions have received below-average rainfall, Schor said.

One of the dangers of low water levels in the coastal aquifers is the possibility that the fresh water could mix with sea water and thus become undrinkable. Schor admitted this had actually occurred in a few instances.

The Water Authority is not just anxiously scanning the skies every day for rain clouds, however. It has been pushing a massive desalination effort which will really begin to bear fruit this year.

“We will have 50 percent more water from desalination plants in 2010 than from Lake Kinneret,” according to Schor.

More plants are expected to begin pumping in the next three to five years. The more plants that go into operation, the less the strain on natural water resources. With enough desalinated water, he said, the country could allow for a period of minimal pumping from Lake Kinneret to enable it to recover.

Ceasing to pump altogether was impossible because some communities receive their water straight from the lake, he said.

He added that the tender to provide water aerators to many households was in progress. The tender took longer than initially expected and was then further delayed by the two-month-long Water Authority employees strike.

On behalf of the Water Authority, Schor pleaded with the public to continue to conserve as much water as possible since the crisis is far from over.


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