Israel’s water situation has its ups and downs
Dead Sea loses 1.5 meters since last October, Kinneret highest in five years.
The Dead Sea is sinking fast. Over the last year the level of salty inland sea has gone down by 1.5 meters (over 4.5 feet), the sharpest decline in its recorded history, according to the October-to-October annual report of the Water Authority's hydrological service, published today. On the other hand, Lake Kinneret – the country's main fresh-water reservoir -- has had its best year since 2004, and for the first time in five years the lake's level has not descended beneath the lower red line below which pumping is dangerous.
Last year was good for the Kinneret in two ways. First it was relatively rainy, by Israeli standards, and second, desalination of seawater in plants along the coast reduced the need to pump from the lake. As a result, the quantity of Kinneret water pumped into the National Water Carrier was reduced by 5 percent.
On October 1, the Kinneret was one meter and 10 centimeters higher than it was on October 1, 2011.
The bad news is that the situation of the Dead Sea, which has virtually no sources of natural water, is worsening. Dams built by Israel, Jordan and Syria have cut off all the sea's main water sources, including the Kinneret and the Yarmuch River, the main tributary of the Jordan in the sector that connects with the Dead Sea.
Over the last hydrological year the Dead Sea's level has fallen by 1.5 meters, compared to 1.25 meters during the previous year. The sea today is almost 30 meters lower than it was 30 years ago, drying out large areas and leaving sinkholes.
Israel and Jordan, with the cooperation of the World Bank, are now working on a plan to save the Dead Sea by replenishing it with Red Sea waters. But even if the project comes to fruition, its effects won't be felt for many years. As a result, the Dead Sea will continue to shrink for at least the next few years.
The hydrological service report also deals with Israel's groundwater sources, whose situation has been improving recently. The mountain aquifer, source of the best-quality groundwater, is half a meter higher than it was in 2011. The level of coastal aquifer, which is the other principal groundwater source, is also higher than last year.