Five-year drought brings Israeli water bodies to historically low levels

Today, the water level in the Kineret is -214.20m, dropping 1 cm a day

August 26, 2018 20:37
2 minute read.
Five-year drought brings Israeli water bodies to historically low levels

A piece of land is seen in the Sea of Galilee. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)


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Water resources in the country are about to break historically low levels, following five years of hydrological drought, the Water Authority said in a report published on Sunday.

The most affected areas are Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the Golan Heights, with the Kinneret’s water level dropping 1 cm. per day. The head of the Organization for the Development of the Galilee, Uri Dorman, told Israeli media that he “hopes the government will invest in the construction of desalination plants to supply drinking and irrigation water to the Kinneret and the Golan Heights. In any case, the government must prepare a contingency plan to compensate the farmers and growers if, heaven forbid, the forecast [of further drought] materializes.”

Despite optimistic rain forecasts for the coming winter, the Water Authority reported the hydrological drought in the Sea of Galilee basin may continue.

The difference between a meteorological drought and a hydrological one is that the former is marked by deficiency in the amount, intensity and timing of rainfall. If it does not end, with the passage of time it culminates in a hydrological drought, which is marked by reduced inflow to water bodies. With the coming of the rainy season, there is a chance that the five-year drought will end, even though more than one rainy season is necessary to reverse such a scenario. A thorough forecast will be published by the Water Authority next month.

Being one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, Israel has developed and implemented top-notch technology to slake its water crisis. It has set up five large-scale desalination plants which supply 85% of domestic urban water, and leads the world in wastewater recycling, reusing nearly 90%, more than any other nation.

Nonetheless, given population growth and climate change, some of the water resources in the country are about to break historically low levels of flow.

“The Kinneret at the end of the winter will remain below the red line,” the Water Authority reported. “Today, the water level in the Kinneret is -214.2 m., and by the beginning of the rainy season it is expected to reach close to the top of the black line.”

Three threshold lines mark the water status in the Kinneret: the upper red line (208.9 m. below sea level), the lower red line (213.2 m. below sea level), and the black line (214.4 m. below sea level). When the lower red line is reached, no pumping should take place; and the black line means irreparable damage to the Kinneret.

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