Lake Kinneret .
(photo credit: JULIE STEIGERWALD)
Breaking all-time record lows for the month of May, the water levels of Lake Kinneret are continuing to dangerously decline, the Water Authority announced on Sunday.
At the end of May, the basin held less than 9 million cubic meters of usable water – the worst situation since 1920.
As drought continues to strike the northern region for the fourth year in a row, for the second consecutive year the Water Authority has ceased pumping water from the Kinneret almost entirely.
“During the month of May, more water evaporated from the Kinneret than entered into it from the [Upper] Jordan River and the springs around it,” a statement from the Water Authority said. “This caused a 15-cm. drop in the Kinneret’s level.”
As of Sunday morning, the Kinneret’s water level was 213.135 meters below sea level, according to Water Authority data – a figure that falls below the authority’s “lower red line” alert value of 213 meters below sea level.
Looking at multi-year averages, even accounting for the pumping that normally occurs from the basin, the Kinneret’s water level typically does not decline in May and remains stable, according to the Water Authority.
“The summer has not yet begun – and at the height of the summer, the Kinneret evaporates at a rate of 1 cm. per day,” the statement warned.
Due to these poor conditions, the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services forecasted that by the beginning of the next rainy season, the Kinneret’s water level would fall by at least another meter – to less than 214 meters below sea level. Such a situation, according to the authority, has not been recorded for a decade, and could lead to a further withdrawal of water from the Kinneret’s shores, and also causes various ecological and environmental phenomena.
While the incessant drought has taken a toll particularly on the country’s North and the Kinneret, these conditions have also negatively impacted other water sources in Israel, like the Dead Sea. In May, the water level of the Dead Sea dropped by 16 cm., leaving the basin at 431.54 meters below sea level at the beginning of June, the Water Authority said. All in all, the Dead Sea has dropped 87 cm. during the 2016-2017 hydrological season, the authority added.