The Israeli Water Authority has announced that Lake Kineret, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee, is reaching its way towards maximum capacity. The Kineret level has now risen to 210.48 meters below sea level, while maximum capacity is 208.80 meters below sea level. After the Kineret level would reach that point, Lake Kineret would overflow its banks and thus flood the nearby city of Tiberius. This would force Israel to open up the Degania Dam, which has been closed most of the time in recent years due to low rainfall.
During a nearly week long storm that had reached Israel, in which there were flooding and snow storms across the country, the Kineret rose .73 meters alone, which is unparalleled for the last two decades. Throughout this winter alone, the Kineret has risen over 1.65 meters. Yet Water Authority Spokesmen Uri Schor has asserted that the restoration of Lake Kineret is not only because of the rains that have fallen, for Israel is also pumping out about half of the water that she used to pump due to the increased usage of desalination plants within the country. Indeed, the utilization of desalination and water reclamation technology is believed to be the main reason for the change, not the recent storms, although increased rainfall always helps.
As a result of these developments, the Israel Water Authority lifted its severe drought advisory that has been in place for the past seven years. Water Authority Head Alexander Kushner asserted, “The water crisis is over. Good rainfall gives us a safety net. It allows us a safe distance from red lines and underground water reservoirs. With the correct water market management we can create an actual safety zone that will last until 2025, even if we go through another two or three dry years.”
Prior to this year, Israel had a major water crisis. Israelis were deeply concerned about the future of Lake Kineret, as well as the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Water is a critical resource for all human life to survive, function and thrive. Yet, until recently, Israelis had feared that they would not have enough fresh water to provide municipal and household water requirements.
This water crisis also had an adverse effect on Israel’s relations with her Arab neighbors. Indeed, former UN chief Boutros Boutrous Ghali had asserted, “The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics.” This statement demonstrates to the extent that water droughts in Israel and the neighboring Arab states added to already existing tensions. Hopefully, since Israel’s water crisis is now officially over, water can now be eliminated from the list of issues that Israel would have to grapple with in future negotiations with the Palestinians, as well as neighboring states such as Syria, should they ever decide to sit down and negotiate a peace treaty with Israel.
By Rachel Avraham