Israel’s Water Shortage Eased by 90 Percent in Four Years

The Sea of Galilee's water level was 1.22 meters higher this year, but the Dead Sea continues to fall, if at a slower pace than in recent years.

Israel’s severe water shortage decreased by 90 percent over the past four years, the Hydrological Service of Israel says.

However, Israel remains short 400 million cubic meters of a level that would assure its reservoirs are secure, says a Hydrological Service report on the year from October 2012 to October 2013.

One reason for the recovery is relatively heavy rainfall over the past two years. Another is substantially increased use of desalinated water, diminishing the need to pump water from natural water sources.

As this year ends, the three basins of Israel’s water supply (the Sea of Galilee, the coastal aquifer and the mountain aquifer) have a combined 1.09 billion cubic meters over the red lines − the levels at which water quality could be compromised, the report says.

The Sea of Galilee ends this year 1.22 meters higher than last year. But over the year, the level of the Dead Sea fell by 99 centimeters. The pace at which it fell was markedly slower than in previous years because of unusually high rainfall, which brought a large amount of water from the Yarmouk River to the Dead Sea.

The western mountain aquifer is the largest and highest-quality water source Israel uses. At the end of the last hydrologic year, the water level was only 60 million cubic meters below the recommended operational level, a situation that did not exist for many years. The water quality in the aquifer is still defined as good, although Hydrological Service officials note that pollution in some drilling areas near Palestinian cities has increased. In many Palestinian drilling areas near Qalqilyah, Tul Karm and Hebron, pollution concentrations are over the permitted standard for drinking water.

There was particularly good news in the western Galilee region, which had abundant rainfall. As a result, water flowed in the Ein Afek springs near Acre for the first time, after being dry for several consecutive years.

Yaron Kaminsky