Sea of Galilee Reaches Highest Water Level in 16 Years

Lake Kinneret expected to fill up even more in the coming days, in part because water is not pumped out during Passover due to religious reasons

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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The Sea of ​​Galilee, this month. The Sea of ​​Galilee has improved, but there is a well-established concern that in the future the periods of drought in the area will increase. February, 2020.
The Sea of ​​Galilee, February, 2020.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret, rose by 1.5 centimeters (0.6 inches), registering on Tuesady its highest water level in 16 years.

After a weekend of heavy rains and the resulting heavy flow in the streams feeding the Kinneret, the lake reached 208.985 meters below sea level – 18.5 centimeters under the “upper red line,” the level at which the lake overflows and floods homes in communities on its shores.

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The water level is expected to rise even more this week, in part because water is not pumped out and into the National Water Carrier during the week of Passover out of fear that the lake could contain leaven, which is forbidden by Jewish law on the holiday.

The Water Authority estimated last month that it will not need to open the Degania dam at the southern end of the sea unless “exceptional” rainfall occurs in the next few weeks. “The last two years were good, but expected dry periods are forecast for our region and we must prepare for it,” said the authority’s director, Giora Shaham.

The Degania dam was last opened in 1995, and in 2004 the level of the freshwater lake reached just eight centimeters below its upper red line. Opening the dam sends water into the Jordan River, which then flows down to the Dead Sea.