The Water Authority decided to open a canal to flow water from the Kinneret to the southern Jordan River on Thursday with the goal of bypassing the Degania Dam and preventing its opening this year. The canal has already been dug and will open next week, according to Channel 12 news.
The Water Authority made the decision as the Kinneret reached just 16 cm under the level at which it would begin overflowing its banks.
The canal will flow 5 billion liters of water from the Kinneret to the Jordan River and will avoid the Degania Dam to avoid negatively affecting pumping stations in the area and the financial costs required to open the dam. The opening of the dam would also impact the water supply for agriculture in the area. The canal will allow for the Kinneret to be kept from overflowing without causing floods and waves.
Israel's national water company Mekorot began pumping water from the lake at a rate of one billion liters per day on Thursday after stopping for the Passover holiday.
The water level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) rose by 2.5 cm between Tuesday and Thursday, bringing the water level to 208.96 meters below sea level, according to the Water Authority.
The Kinneret is now 16 cm below the upper red line threshold, which marks 208.9 meters below sea level. The lake is currently at the highest level it's been since 2004.
The expectation had been that if the lake exceeded the upper red line threshold, the Degania Dam would be opened and the water would be diverted to the Jordan River. The last time the dam was opened was in 2013. The dam had been expected to be partially opened at the beginning of May in order to prevent flooding, according to the Kinneret Draining Authority.
In February, the Water Authority announced that it would open the dam in late March if the Kinneret reached 20 cm below the upper red line. However, in March, the Water Authority announced that the dam was not expected to open this year, even though the last two years have had high amounts of rainfall. The new canal solution removes the need for the opening in any case.
The Water Authority previously announced that it believed the water level would reach 20 cm under the upper red line. In 2004, the water level reached 8 cm under the upper red line and the dam still wasn't opened.
A report by the Water Authority last month announced that the water level of the Kinneret had risen by 2.315 meters since the beginning of the rainy season, compared to a 3.47 meter rise last winter. (It is now a 2.82 meter rise since the beginning of the season) The past two winters and a dramatic decrease in pumping have brought the lake from being near the black line threshold, which would indicate an ecological danger, to its current, almost full state.