Water Flow Into Israel's Lake Kinneret Hits Lowest Rate in 90 Years

The Kinneret level dropped by 15 centimeters last month, reaching 71 centimeters below the lower red line.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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A bather in Lake Kinneret, September 2016. In the background is an island created as a result of the low water level.
A bather in Lake Kinneret, September 2016. In the background is an island created as a result of the low water level.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

The amount of water flowing from the Jordan River into Lake Kinneret in October was the lowest during that month in the past 90 years, according to a report issued last month by the Israel Water Authority’s Hydrological Service, which attests to the acute water shortage in the north.

The Jordan River is the main water source of Lake Kinneret, but minimal rainfall in recent years has left the river’s large tributaries with the practically the lowest flow intensity ever measured. The Water Authority has had to cut down the water supply to farmers in the area and is planning other moves to prevent a further deterioration in the lake’s water quality, which has become increasingly saline.

The report last month says that 16 million cubic meters of water had flowed into the Sea of Galilee in October, after deducting the amount of water that evaporated – the lowest measured since 1926. Consequently, the lake’s salinity rose to its highest level since 1968, posing a danger to crops watered by the lake. The Kinneret level dropped by 15 centimeters last month, reaching 71 centimeters below the lower red line.

Due to the meager precipitation, the water flow in the Jordan’s tributaries, the Dan and Banias streams, and the Western Galilee springs has been depleted. The Na’aman creek’s springs have been dry for several months and the region’s nature reserve has been receiving groundwater obtained by drilling.

The Kinneret’s state affects the southern part of the Jordan River, which is almost dry, and the Dead Sea, which receives its water supply from the river. According to the report, the Dead Sea level dropped by 12 centimeters in October and by 1.13 meters over the past hydrological year.

“The biggest problem in the Kinneret area is the number of successive years with very little rain,” says Dr. Doron Merkel of the Water Authority. “The Kinneret level could have dropped further if we hadn’t reduced the water pumping from the lake to the National Water Carrier.” In order to make up some of the lost supply, desalinated sea water was used, he says.

The Water Authority has had to slash the Galilee farmers’ water quota, pumped from the Jordan and Dan rivers, by 17 percent and is planning to increase the groundwater drilling in the Galilee to make up the water supply. Drilling has been done near Kibbutz Shamir and in the Hula Valley, in order to supply water to northern communities.

The Authority is planning to set up a system to transport water from west of the Galilee to the eastern part, supplying drilled groundwater to the Galilee Panhandle and other areas. A large desalination facility in the Western Galilee will provide additional water to these communities.

The authority is also planning to funnel salt water from one of the Kinneret’s tributaries to the salt water carrier – in order to decrease the lake’s overall salinity.

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