Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)Matanya Tausig, Flash 90

The likelihood that the Degania Dam will be opened this year is increasing in light of the recent heavy rains.

The Kinneret's (Sea of Galilee) water level has risen 167 centimeters since the start of the 2023-2024 rainy season compared to 64 centimeters throughout all of last winter. In the coming ten days, it is expected to rise another 30 centimeters.

The Degania Dam is opened when the Kinneret reaches 208.8 meters below sea level; its current water level is 209.9 meters below sea level - a difference of just 110 centimeters.

Israel's Water Authority, however, estimates that there is just a 50% chance that the dam will be opened, and its policy is to avoid opening the dam if there is a viable alternative. As such, the Authority has increased the amount of water drawn daily from the Kinneret, drawing 800,000 cubic meters daily, reducing the Kinneret's water level by half a centimeter.

"Water flow to the southern Jordan is water that we did not use for drinking, and for every cubic meter that we direct [there], we will need to purchase a cubic meter of desalinated water," Firas Telhami, Kinneret Department Manager at the Water Authority, explained to Israel Hayom.

The last time the dam was opened was in February 1995, when the Degania Dam was opened for ten days, but in recent years as well there was a chance that it would be opened.

Telhami said, "In the winter of 2019-2020, we were nine centimeters away from the upper red line, and 20 years ago we were four centimeters from it. In order for the dam to open, we need 180-200 millimeters of rainfall in the Kinneret basin area. This is obviously dependent on when the rain falls, if the ground has already dried or not, and how it falls - meaning concentrated or as rain which is absorbed into the ground."

Israel Hayom noted that if the dam is opened, there will be two days' warning given to areas around the southern Jordan River, in order to prevent damages. The dam will be opened gradually until its halfway point, which will reduce the water level by four centimeters daily.

"We are keeping our hand on the pulse, and delicate management will continue until April, but it's hard to predict what happens next. In November-December, we didn't start off well, and January-February have made up for the rough beginning. We are using a few models for the next ten days, including rain forecast, and we are inserting it into the water level predictions," he concluded.