Record low rainfall in February

The Sea of Galilee rose by just 22 cm as opposed to an annual average of 60cm in the corresponding period.

Shlomo Piotrokowski,

Gershon Ellinson,Flash 90

February was defined as an arid month throughout the country, according to data released Monday by the Water Authority.

In the coastal aquifers, the amount of precipitation during the month was 50-60% of the annual average for February.

The northern aquifers suffered a particularly arid month with just 10% of the annual average precipitation in the Kinneret aquifer. For some of the weather stations, this was a record low amount of precipitation for February.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the north is suffering from a dearth in rainfall. Despite the policy of the Water Authority to reduce to an absolute minimum the amount of water pumped from the Sea of Galilee, the water level is under the red line and the north is suffering from a water shortage expected to get more severe during the coming summer months.

The Water Authority has been investing in desalination processes in order to maintain the water reserves in Israel. At present more than half of the water provided for different uses are manmade, employing desalination and recycling methods. The authority stated that it intends to set up a desalination plant in the Western Galilee which will reinforce water resources but due to local opposition the plant has not yet been established.

"Everyone agrees that this plant has to open but nobody is willing to have the plant in their vicinity and despite the fact that numerous alternatives have been investigated, the local residents continue to express opposition which prevents it from being established," said the authority.

The Sea of Galilee rose by just 22 cm in February whereas the normal annual average is about 60 cm. On March 1st it stood at 213.16 cm, 16 cm under the lower red line. Such low levels are unusually low and for the last decade the sea was above the red line at the end of the winter.

The sea rose by just 68 cm from its lowest level of the winter, while it on average rises by 1.65 m per winter.

The combined water shortage in the Sea of Galilee and the Western Galilee over the last 4 years is the greatest in the past 100 years and has even adversely affected the Jordan River and the Dead Sea (which the Jordan drains into)The Jordan's water levels dropped significantly while the Dead sea water level dropped by 6 cm, three times as much as it dropped last year in the same period.