With the water level of Israel's largest reservoir dropping daily and only 6.5 centimeters away from the government's Red Line, water experts continue to clamor for desalination.

Following a relatively dry winter (rainfall was only 65% of average) and an early summer, the level of the Kineret (Sea of Galilee), now stands only 6.5 centimeters above the red line set by the government.  Its height is 212.935 meters below sea level, while the red line - below which it is not recommended to draw water from the Kineret - is at 213 meters below sea level.

Barring unforeseen miracles in the coming week, the Kinneret's water level will drop below the 213 mark sometime next week.  The question thus arises: Will water continue to be drawn from the Kinneret for the People of Israel to drink, bathe, water their crops and lawns, and wash their cars? 

The answer, a water economy official told Arutz-7, is yes. "You must understand," he said, "that the Red Line is merely a recommendation. The government definitely tries to make sure not to reach that level, but it really has no choice but to continue drawing water even beyond the 213 mark."

However, he added, "in the past few years, the government has designated a Black Line, at 215 meters below sea level, and that is something that truly cannot be breached."

He said that the situation in the Kinneret today is not as bad as it was seven years ago, when the water height reached 214.87 meters below sea level - only 13 centimeters within what was later to become the Black Line.  "At that time," the official said, "the government made a smart decision, and voted to desalinate 400 million cubic meters of water each year.  If that decision had been implemented, there would be no water crisis today.  But it wasn't, mainly because the Treasury Ministry fellows said there wasn't enough money - which of course is nonsense.  It also happened that a couple of rainy winters followed, and so the water crisis was forgotten."

Kinneret Bad, Aquifers Worse

Though the Kinneret is not in as bad shape as it was seven years ago, the overall water sitaution is even worse.  This is because the Coastal and Mountain Aquifers (underground water reservoirs), Israel's next two largest water sources - each providing 20% of Israel's water, as compared with the Kineret's 27% - are very low on water.

Many water experts say that water conservation by residents could save tens of millions of cubic meters of water each year, and that campaigns to this effect should be run.  "However," one official said, "in reality, we are not short tens of millions, but rather hundreds of millions. Therefore, desalination is the only real solution."

Currently, Israel desalinates 135 million cubic meters of water each year - 100 million at the world's largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, in Ashkelon, and the remainder in Palmachim.  A third plant, set to be completed by next year in Hadera, is also scheduled to provide 100 million cubic meters of water each year.  The Ashkelon plant's production is around 13% of the country's domestic consumer demand, or 5–6% of Israel's total water needs.

A month ago, the government approved another gargantuan desalination program - 600 million annual cubic meters by 2013, and 750 million cubic meters by 2020.  To this end, additional desalination plants are to be built along Israel's Mediterranean coast. In addition, 120 million shekels were allocated for water conservation activities, such as promoting water conservation awareness and a new water price schedule, and 915 million shekels were  budgeted, for a five-year span, for water recycling.