The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) rose by 4.5 centimeters on Tuesday, rising to 209.855 meters below sea level as rain fell across Israel on Monday and snow fell on Mount Hermon.
The lake is now 1.055 meters below the upper red line threshold, which marks 208.8 meters below sea level, and 3.145 meters above the lower red line, which marks 213 meters below sea level.
The Jordan River flows strongly amid winter rains. (Credit: Mahmoud Naser/Nature and Parks Authority)
Further rainfall and snowfall is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, with strong winds on Tuesday and concerns of flooding and thunderstorms on Wednesday.
The past two years have featured above-average rainfall in Israel, with the Israel Hydrological Service announcing last May that the country had, for the first time in 30 years, experienced its second straight year of such rainfall with 24% more recorded.
The Kinneret rose by 3.01 meters in the 2019-2020 rainy season, reaching its highest level since 2004, as high as 208.89 meters below sea level, just 9 cm. below the upper red line.
The Water Authority is preparing for the possibility that it may need to fully open the Deganya Dam for the first time in 25 years as the Kinneret remains high after two years of especially rainy winters.
If the rainfall this winter exceeds 90% of the perennial average, then the dam will need to be opened. The opening of the dam will likely take place around April 2021 if the water level rises high enough.
The dam was opened partially in 2013, but has not been opened fully since 1995. It had been expected to be partially opened at the beginning of May last year in order to prevent flooding, according to the Kinneret Draining Authority. In April, the Water Authority decided to open a canal to divert five billion liters of water from the Kinneret to the southern Jordan River, with the goal of bypassing the Deganya Dam to avoid negatively affecting pumping stations in the area and the financial costs required to open the dam.
The opening of the Alumot Dam and the Deganya Dam, which both block water from entering the lower Jordan River from the Kinneret, has been impeded due to a natural gas pipeline near the former which could be damaged if the dams are opened, the Water Authority told Calcalist on Tuesday.
The authority claims that the pipeline, owned by the Merimon Company, was not buried deep enough, while Merimon claims that it is deep enough and that opening the dam shouldn't put it at any risk.
The Water Authority is planning to possibly open the two dams to let water flow through the Jordan River to the Dead Sea in order to avoid flooding towns near the Kinneret due to the recent rainy winters and the current winter, according to Calcalist.
In a letter to Merimon, the authority warned that it only needs to notify the company 48 hours before the dam opens and that the company is required to provide a new replacement line six to seven meters underground to meet the guidelines of the Israel Fire and Rescue Services and Israel Police. The line is currently only two to three meters underground, according to the Authority.
The company told Calcalist that they "outright reject the Water Authority's claims" and that the gas line was set up according to the permits issued to it. The company claimed that the pipeline is not impeding the opening of the dam.
Up to 150-170 cubic meters of water flows through the river each second when the dams are fully opened.
Until only 15 years ago, the lake was one of Israel’s primary sources of drinking water, as the country’s first large-scale desalination facility in Ashkelon only became operational in 2005.