Daily Israel Report

Rains Continue, Kineret Rises, Desalination Limps Along

After a very late start, the winter rains are here in force – and the Sea of Galilee is benefiting. Israel still looks to desalination, however.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/10/2011, 12:39 PM / Last Update: 2/10/2011, 12:52 PM

After a very late start, the winter rains appear to be here in force – and the Kineret and Israel's aquifers are benefiting. Israel still looks to desalination, however.

Since it reached its lowest point this year – 214.12 meters below sea level on Dec. 11 – the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) has gained 43 centimeters (over 17 inches), and now stands at 213.69. This is still 69 centimeters (2 feet 4 inches) below the government-mandated red line, considered to be unhealthy for Israel’s largest fresh-water body and main water provider.

Meanwhile, it is a matter of consensus that desalination must be a major part of the ultimate solution to Israel’s water problems – but bureaucracy is slowing down construction of the newest desalination plant in Ashdod. The current point of contention is a 4-agorah (1.1 cent) gap between the price per cubic meter demanded by the Mekorot Water Company and the price the Finance Ministry agrees to pay. The difference means 11 million shekels ($2.97 million) a year.

The lowest level ever measured in the Sea of Galilee was reached in 2001, when it stood only 13 centimeters above 215 meters below sea level.

Over the past two weeks, Israel has barely seen a day without rain, and it continues today as well. It is expected to take a break over the weekend, but will return on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.