Lake Kinneret has seen a pretty bad winter, according to Dr. Doron Markel, head of the the Kinneret monitoring and management department at the Water Authority. As if the tsunami of garbage left behind by Passover visitors weren't enough, it now appears the lake's water level has dropped 2 meters below its upper red line.
Dr. Markel estimates the water level will climb by only 10 centimeters until summer sets in, leaving the depleted water body to suffer further losses during the scorching months ahead. According to the authority, the lake's water level was 30 centimeters higher this time last year. The year before that, it was 130 centimeters higher.
According to Markel, the recent prodigious amounts of rain in the North have given many northerners reason to believe that water reserves must be plentiful. And indeed, the rainy season lasted for almost six months this year, starting as early as October. "All said and done, the lake's absorption capacity did not exceed 60 percent all winter long," Dr. Markel says, explaining that much water was lost precisely because rainfall occurred over a long period of time.
"When the earth is wet, it increases the flow of water to lower places, and this is why we would have profited more from a shorter, more intense winter with rainfall occurring in concentrated bursts," Dr. Markel adds.
Although the situation now is very encouraging, the Water Authority had anticipated a bleaker picture until mid-winter. December was especially dry, and January was not much better. The water level was not rising, but the anxiety level was climbing. The rains of March and April saved the day, clearing fears of an officially dry winter.
The silver lining of the clouds ahead can be found in the fact that the quality of the water pumped from the Kinneret has recently improved, regardless of the heaps of litter dumped on its shores during Passover. "The litter is disturbing to the eye, and it damages the lake as a tourist destination. However, it does not affect it as a body of water," Markel says.
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