A new mid-winter storm is pounding Israel with more rain as the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee rises to less than 2 meters (79 inches) before the level where the dam must be opened to dump water into the Jordan River and prevent flooding of the beachside city of Tiberias.
The last time the dam was opened was two decades ago, and no one dreamed several months ago that the Kinneret would rise so dramatically this year.
Besides the “Superstorm” that lashed Israel earlier this month and dumped more than 10 inches of rain in one week on same areas in the north, the National Water Authority has brought on line three plants to take the salt out of the Mediterranean Sea water.
The desalinated water now provides the country with 50 percent of its needs and has allowed the Water Authority to significantly reduce pumping water from the Kinneret.
This year’s rapid rise of the Kinneret has brought sighs of relief to vacationers and resort operators, who have been bemoaning the sight of the receding lake that has simultaneously added several feet of a rocky shoreline.
The current rains – and more is forecast towards the end of next week – plus melting snow from the northern Goals Heights and the Hermon ski resort will result in runoff that will add several more inches to the lake. One inch of rain already has been recorded in some parts of the country, and the storm is expected to intensify before drying out around Friday.
Even if there is only average rainfall for February and early March, the dams will have to be opened, bringing desperately needed water to the Dead Sea, which receives a minimal flow of water from the Jordan River.
More desalination plants are scheduled to come on line in the next two years, creating the possibility that the Kinneret’s dams will be opened on a regular basis.
A yearly flow of water from the Kinneret to the Dead Sea could bring about a miraculous turnaround in the level of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth but which has become lower every month due to the lack of inflow.