Driest Winter in 100 Years in Northern Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Sunset at the Kinneret. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

Northern Israel faces the worst rain shortfall in a hundred years, the Water Authority said on Monday.

It was the fourth year running of low rainfall in the north during the traditional winter rainy season, and reservoirs are dangerously depleted.

Despite the fact that the Water Authority has almost completely ceased pumping water out of Lake Kinneret, the basin’s water level fell to 213.16 meters below sea level on March 1, 16 centimeters below the “bottom red line” warning line.

“The Kinneret level’s location under the red line toward the end of the rainy season is an unusual situation that has not occurred in about a decade,” a statement from the Water Authority said.

February was an especially dry month across Israel, but the northern region suffered the most. Wherease in the coastal aquifers, precipitation last month ranged from 50-60 percent of the annual average for February, it was only 10 percent of the average at the Kinneret.

Desalination plants currently account for about half of the country’s needs, and serve as a buffer against the effects of drought.

The Water Authority has proposed building a desalination plant in the Western Galil to compensate for the chronic shortfall, but local opposition has kept it from happening.

“Everyone agrees that this plant has to open, but nobody is willing to have the plant in their vicinity, and despite the fact that numerous alternatives have been investigated, the local residents continue to express opposition, which prevents it from being established,” said the authority.