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This past winter was rainier than the previous one, but it was still considered a dry winter: Precipitation in various parts of the country reached only 65 percent to 90 percent of the multiyear average, according to figures released last week by the Israel Hydrological Service.

Over Lake Kinneret, rainfall was 80 percent to 85 percent of the multiyear average, according to the hydrological service. This is the fifth consecutive year that rain in this region has been less than average, and this is one of the reasons that the level of the lake is more than a meter lower than it was a year ago, and that only half the average annual amount of water has flowed into it. Calculations show that at the end of the summer, the level of the Kinneret will be only 67 centimeters above the lowest permissible level before pumping must stop.

Small amounts of rain fell last month in most of the country. In a single event, on Mount Hermon, 120 millimeters of rainfall were recorded within two days. This swelled the Dan and Snir streams, which receive their water from Mount Hermon, but it did not significantly change the quantity of water flowing into the Kinneret.

The Water Authority, to which the hydrological service belongs, is closely watching additional sources of water: the mountain and the coastal aquifers. A decine in the rain that fell in these areas was seen, from north to south. Above the northern mountain aquifer, 83 percent of the multiyear average of rain fell, while only 66 percent of the average amount fell over the southern aquifer.

The Water Authority's main concern is that the need to pump less water from the Kinneret will mean increased pumping from the aquifers, which could then run the risk of increased salination as their level of fresh water declines.