Kinneret water to be released into Jordan River

1,000 cubic meters of water per hour will be discharged next month from the Sea of Galilee to replenish river.

Sunset at the kinneret  370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Sunset at the kinneret 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Next month the Water Authority will allow the discharge of 1,000 cubic meters of water per hour from the Kinneret basin into the the Jordan River, with the ultimate goal of letting in 30 million cubic meters of water flow past the Deganiya Dam annually, the Jordan Rehabilitation Administration announced on Thursday.
Water has no been released on a large scale in years from the Kinneret basin into the Jordan, whose flow has dropped to a standstill as the level of the river dwindled and it has boasted only high levels of pollution.
Replenishing the flow of the river will only be the first stage in its rehabilitation, stressed Water Authority Commissioner Alexander Kushnir, to representatives of the Israeli and Jordanian governments gathered at a seminar in Tel Aviv on Thursday – organized by the Southern Jordan River Drainage Authority.
A collaboration of many bodies including the Drainage Authority, the Environmental Protection Ministry, the Water Authority, the Emek Hamayanot Regional Council, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the Jordan Rehabilitation Administration was established in 2009 with the purpose of removing the river's contaminants and restoring its natural value.
Although the Water Authority will begin next month by pumping 1,000 cubic meters per hour, in the future the government will be able to consider boosting the stream with additional water flow, Kushnir explained.
Meanwhile, within two years, a sewage treatment facility will begin to operate in the region, capable of conserving the water level and maintaining quality, he said. The facility will ensure that chlorine levels in the treated water drop from 3,000 milligrams per liter to 1,000 milligrams per liter, and will solve the issue of waste-water penetrating the riverbed, Kushnir said.
All of these improvements in water quality will translate into an ecological restoration process that will increase biodiversity and protect endangered species in the region, he added.
In addition, the Jordan Rehabilitation Administration will clear land mines this summer that extend along 30 kilometers of the river’s perimeter, so that the river can become more accessible to visitors, said Inbal Abraham, project manager on behalf of the Drainage Authority.
The ultimately purpose of the project is to restore historically valuable ecological habitats and agricultural spaces while leveraging peace and cooperation along the way, said Ramon Ben- Ari, CEO of the Drainage Authority.
Saad Abu Hammour, head of the Jordan Valley Authority on the Jordanian side, welcomed the project and said that a Jordanian team was working in conjunction with the Israeli group.
Although in favor of recharging the Jordan River with a clean and stable water supply, regional environmental organization Friends of the Earth Middle East has repeatedly said that the 30 million cubic meters promised by Israel will not be sufficient. Between 400 and 600 million cubic meters of water is needed to replenish the Lower Jordan, and Israel should be allocating at least 220 million cubic meters, Friends of the Earth said.