For decades, the National Water Carrier has pumped water out of the Kinneret and into the faucets in Israeli homes and businesses – but the system will now be used to send water in the opposite direction, Energy, Water and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview with Yediot Acharonot. “We will begin pumping water into the Kinneret next year from our existing water purification and desalination facilities, and within three years we will build a new facility that will supply enough water to save the lake,” Steinitz said.
Rainfall over much of the past decade has been lower than average, and much less than needed – and as a result, Israel is facing a hydraulic crisis like never before. “The danger is clear and imminent. The Kinneret is closer than ever to the ‘black line,’ which will essentially kill it as a lake. The situation in the aquifers, springs and streams is even worse,” Steinitz said.
Until now, the government’s policy has been to develop water sources that would provide enough water to residents and industry, “but we have changed that outlook,” Steinitz said. “We are now including dealing with droughts and concern for nature in our policy.” With that in mind, the government has already approved a plan to double the amount of desalinated water in use in Israel, he said. As part of the plan, the National Water Carrier will be adjusted to transport water from various new desalination and water treatment plants to all parts of the country, including to the Kinneret.
According to the Water Authority, the Kinneret is suffering from a water deficit of some 10 million cubic liters, more than at any time since 1920. In addition, the country’s aquifers were short one billion cubic meters of water as of the end of 2017, and the number is expected to grow by 20% by the end of 2018. 2017 was the fourth year in a row of below-average rainfall in northern Israel, the Authority said.