(photo credit: Jonathan Beck)
"Another dry winter will bring Israeli water supplies to the red lines," Mekorot CEO Ronen Wolfman said Monday in an official statement published by the company ahead of Rosh Hashana. "The Kinneret's level is the lowest registered in the last four years."
While from a hydrological perspective the water levels are still within allowable limits for the summer of 2007, forecasts predict that if the winter of 2008 is as dry as the last one, levels will drop to a degree that will force Mekorot to take drastic measures, including cuts in supply, changes in norms and significant reductions in water use.
The water use per household in 2007 in most areas of Israel was close to an all-time high. In the first seven months of the year, there was a rise of seven percent in Mekorot supply for residential use compared to the same period in 2006. The sharpest hike was in the center of the country, where an increase of over 10% was recorded.
The data further revealed a general usage increase of 23.3% as compared to the beginning of the previous decade. From these figures, the increase in residential use of water was an astounding 95%, while industrial use rose by only 4.3%. Agricultural use of water decreased by 9.4%, following cutbacks in supplies allocated for that purpose.
Mekorot invests many resources in improving the efficiency of water management and uses some of the world's most advanced technologies, Wolfman said, but the relatively dry winter of 2007 brought little replenishment to the Kinneret and aquifers. The lake is 50 centimeters below its level of one year ago, and less than a meter above the lower red line.
Mekorot supplies approximately 70% of water in Israel overall, and 80% of water for residential use.