Sunset at the kinneret 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Israel must prepare for the possibility of a severe drought period that is expected to begin within a few years, the Water Authority warned on Monday.
Models from the authority’s Hydrological Services have predicted that Israel will face a long and difficult drought from 2015 through 2035, which will be even more exceptional than the country’s previous two drought periods – 2004 through 2010 and 1999 through 2002.
The weather at the end of the decade will become arid in a “dramatic, severe and even exceptional manner,” according to Hydrological Services.
The statement comes as, for the first time this season, the water levels of the Lake Kinneret basin dropped on Monday morning, bringing the reservoir down to 209.875 meters below sea level, the Water Authority reported.
This figure represents a half-centimeter plunge from the previous morning, and leaves the Kinneret 1.075 meters from full capacity.
“All of Israel’s water needs will be fulfilled,” a statement from the Water Authority assured, however.
That being said, drought periods can have a significant impact on consumers, farmers as well as nature, the authority noted.
The models for the expected drought were assembled by a team of senior researchers from Hydrological Services and Tel Aviv University.
Incorporating climate simulations for the coming decades and analyzing the cyclical nature of drought periods and their intensities, the model indicates an increase in drought frequency, strength and duration, the Water Authority said.
Hints of the incoming drought can already be found in the weather patterns of the winter of 2013.
For the first three months of winter – from November to January – a series of heavy rainstorms gave Israelis confidence after having experienced a sequence of many drought years, the Water Authority said. However, the months of February and March that followed proved to be driest since 1957.
Yet despite these dire predictions, the Water Authority is assuring consumers that Israel will not in fact suffer a water shortage during this lengthy drought, and that the Israeli water market is prepared to adjust to extreme climate change.
The combined forces of increased desalination plant capacity, as well as reclamation of treated wastewater for irrigation, have already allowed the Israeli water economy to avert crisis and develop a stable and reliable water supply, the authority stressed.
“The water market of the State of Israel will be required to cope with much longer and more severe periods of drought than those that we have recently gone through,” said Water Authority Commissioner Alexander Kushnir.
“We will stand by our duty to supply all of the water required for the needs of the State of Israel and its residents.”
Kushnir emphasized the “tremendous effort” that the state has made in recent years to establish efficient desalination facilities as well as to become the world leader in implementing purified wastewater for irrigation needs.
These steps, he explained, have “provided us with the tools necessary for coping with extreme climate changes and for guaranteeing a reliable and stable water supply for domestic, industrial and agricultural consumers.”
“Beyond the generation of alternative water sources, enormous work is being performed to upgrade and develop the national water system, which is necessary for the absorption of desalinated water from the new facilities,” Kushnir added.