Strike Means No Data on Kinneret Level

Many Israelis are undoubtedly anxious to hear whether yesterday's heavy rains produced a rise in the worrying low water level of Lake Kinneret. But there is no one who can answer this question - the Water Authority is on strike.

Manual monitoring of the Kinneret's level is the province of one specific authority employee, Shuli Chen, who normally enters the cold water early every morning to take his measurements. But due to the strike, he is skipping his regular morning bath.

The Kinneret's water level is also measured every day by machines at the lakeside monitoring station in Tiberias. But there is no one to read the machines' measurements, because the meter readers are also Water Authority employees.

The 220 employees began their strike last week to protest what they deem foot-dragging on the part of the Finance Ministry and the authority's management over negotiations on a proposed structural reform of the agency. The workers oppose this reform, saying they were never consulted.

The last time anyone checked the Kinneret's water level, therefore, was last Thursday - when it stood at -214.31 meters, or 5.51 meters below the upper red line.

Over the next few days, forecasters are predicting a lot of rain. Hence whenever Chen and his colleagues do return to work, we can at least hope that they will observe a change for the better.

Several parts of the country experienced heavy rainfall yesterday. As with the last big rainstorm, a month ago, the Sharon region absorbed the most water: Netanya had been hit with 91 millimeters of rain by yesterday afternoon, while Tel Aviv got 24 millimeters. There was even light snowfall on Mount Hermon.

The rain is expected to continue today, but will ease off toward evening. Dry weather is expected to return later on this week.