A pipe used to pump water from Lake Kinneret
A pipe used to pump water from Lake Kinneret, near Kibbutz Ha’on. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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Despite predictions of an upcoming stormy weekend, Israel will probably have to manage its water economy with various reservoirs reaching the black line, at which point further pumping could cause permanent damage to the quality of Israel's water, according to the Mekorot water company.

Mekorot's chief hydrologist, Dr. Yossi Guttman, says the conclusions are based on the expected amount of rainfall in the coming rainy season and the fact that no additional desalination plant is scheduled to go into operation this year to counter the effects of the drought.

According to Guttman, Israel's high-quality western mountain aquifer is already a few centimeters below the red line, below which point no pumping should take place, and the amount of water flowing through the Jordan River is only half what it was a year ago.

The level of Lake Kinneret declined by 18 centimeters in November, with only 10 million cubic meters of water entering the lake, the smallest amount ever recorded in November.

Guttman said the main risk under these circumstances is salination, the penetration of sea water or saline ground water into the sweet-water aquifer, and that pumping may have to be limited in areas where the risk of salination is greatest. "Our advantage is that we have a national system and can move water from one region to another," he said.