Israel faces third year of drought

Israel Water Authority declares third year of drought as Kinneret fails to make substantial rise, and Dead Sea continues to shrink.

Raphael Poch ,

Kinneret Lake
Kinneret Lake
Flash 90

The Israel Water Authority (IWA) plans to declare a drought for northern Israel this year, for the third year in a row.

The declaration comes due to not having received enough rainfall during the winter months up until and including January in the Kinneret drainage basin.

The IWA announced that, including the rainfall received in January, only one-third of the average annual rainfall fell in the region, causing the water level in the Kinneret to rise by only 22 centimeters.

This rise is only 12 percent of the expected annual rise of the lake due to winter rainfall. The IWA also said that since the beginning of the measuring period, only one year has been worse.  

The hydrology department of the IWA published a report on Thursday in which it outlined that only 370 millimeters of rainfall graced the northern area around the drainage basin this winter, as opposed to the normal 550 millimeters. The average needed over the entire winter is 850 millimeters. 

The average increase of the Kinneret sea level is a rise of 1.6 meters each winter, and this year falls far short of that number.

The IWA said in the statement that the Kinneret is currently 4.01 meters below the level that the water should be at. Currently the lake sits only 19 centimeters above the lowest red line, and sits at a height of 212.81 meters below sea level. 

The lack of water is attributed to a very dry fall season, and even though January saw a lot of rainfall, Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the streams and underground springs in the area are flowing at only 50% of their capacity for this time of year. 

The long term forecast predicts that this season will continue to be one of drought, with a dry February and March expected.

On the lower side of the Jordan Valley the surface height of the Dead Sea decreased by seven centimeters in January and now stands at the height of 429.92 meters below sea level. The sea has depreciated by 38 centimeters since the beginning of the rainy season in October.