Although blessed rains have reached Israel after last week’s tragic wildfires, the fact remains that this winter has started out very dry – and the Kinneret has continued to suffer. Even if heavy rain were to fall for the next month on a daily basis, say water experts, the northern lake will still be far below its maximum capacity.
As a result, the Water Authority is considering a plan to direct desalinated water to the Kinneret, reversing the flow of the National Water Carrier that usually moves water from the Kinneret southwards. Although the amount of water pumped from the Kinneret in recent years has been vastly reduced because of the low levels of the lake, Israel is still releasing large amounts of water to Jordan as part of the 1994 peace treaty with that country. Israelis largely use desalinated and recycled water, but even that has not been sufficient to beef up the lake’s level.
According to the plan, a year that has lower than average rainfall would have authorities pump 100 million cubic meters of desalinated water into the Kinneret. That would be sufficient to raise the level of the lake by 70 centimeters. Israel has the capacity to desalinate 580 million cubic meters of water per year, in addition to water that is pumped from its three principle aquifers.
Speaking to Haaretz, Tami Schor, head of the Water Authority, said that in any event, very little water would be pumped from the lake this year, even if no water is pumped in. “This year we plan to pump 25 million cubic meters of water, instead of an average of 230 million. We are only pumping that out to keep the National Water Carrier active and to clean out its filtration system, which we will hopefully need for the future,” Schor said.