Kinneret at highest October levels in six years

This year’s early rains encourage water officials; water level stands at 212.345 meters below sea level.

Kinneret at sunset 311 (photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Kinneret at sunset 311
(photo credit: Joe Yudin)
As rain begins to dampen the streets of central and northern Israel this fall, experts find the water level of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) to be encouraging – but with no correlation to the recent bouts of early seasonal rainfall.
On Tuesday morning, the Kinneret water level stood at 212.345 meters below sea level, the lowest that it has been at this time of year since 2006, when it stood at 211.990 meters below sea level on October 10 of that year, according to Water Authority data. The water level is significantly above the feared “black line” – the historical minimum of the lake, 214.87 meters below sea level – and it is also above the bottom red line, which stands at 213 meters below sea level.
On approximately October 9 from 2011 through 2006, respectively, the Kinneret water levels stood at 213.455, 213.745, 214.270, 214.1 and 212.41 meters below sea level, according to Water Authority data.
“This situation occurs due to three reasons – the first one is that we had an average winter, after seven drought years,” Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening. “The second is the Water Authority policy – that we pump much less from Lake Kinneret than in other years.” In 2011, the Water Authority pumped 190 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret; in the prior decade, an average of 300 million cubic meters of water were pumped annually, according to Schor.
The third reason is the dramatic increase of desalinated and recycled water use throughout the country, he explained. “Those three reasons made it possible for us to leave more natural water in the resources, and at Lake Kinneret we are about one meter higher than last year,” Schor said.
While this news is encouraging, there are still many steps to be taken to further improve the Kinneret’s situation, says Schor.
“We are still only about 65 centimeters above the red bottom, and that’s not the best situation,” he said. “The ideal situation would have been if at this time of the year we would be one meter higher. So we have still a lot to reach for.”
On Monday, Tel Aviv received about 6 millimeters of rain, Haifa about 10 millimeters and northeastern areas about 7 millimeters, according to data from the Israel Meteorological Service.
This year’s early bouts of rain have naturally encouraged the country’s water managers, even if none of the precipitation thus far amounted to anything significant, Schor added.
“We hope it’s a sign for a very good year,” he said.”If we have an average year plus continued used of desalination and recycled sewage, we will be able to recover more of the natural sources. But we must also take into consideration that all of us need to continue using the water wisely, without wasting it.”