Photo Credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Inside the Eshkol water filtration plant.

As water levels in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) continues to drop after years of over-pumping and a series of bad droughts, Israel’s Water Authority is working on implementing a new solution to the serious water problem in the Galil, according to a report on Mako News.

Much of Israel’s water supplies come from coastal aquifers, aquifers under Judea and Samaria and a series of desalination plants along the coast. The Galil region receives its water from the Kinneret and local water sources.

The dreaded “Kinneret Island” which appears when water levels are too low. Aerial photo courtesy of Rahaf
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Historically, the Kinneret supplied 10% of Israel’s drinking water, though now, at least 40% of Israel’s drinking water comes from seawater desalination.

The Dead Sea has also been drying up and shrinking as less water reaches it from the Jordan River.

On top of Israel’s water needs, Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan requires that Israel transfer 50 million cubic meters of water to Jordan annually. Israel transfers far more than that amount to its less than appreciative neighbor, to help keep the Hashemite kingdom from collapsing.

The solution to the Kinneret’s water problem will be implemented by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. They will be pumping desalinated water back into the Kinneret from the Eshkol water filtration plant and reservoirs in the Bet Netofa valley. The Eshkol facility is the fourth largest water filtration plant in the world.

Ironically, the facility was actually built in 2007 to filter and pump water coming from the Kinneret, and then distribute it to the rest of the country.

The Eshkol water filtration plant.

The cost for building the new infrastructure is estimated at 300 million shekels.

But that’s only part of the picture.

Better water infrastructure is needed in the entire Galil region due to the droughts, and the entire project to rehabilitate the region is expected to cost close to a billion shekels.

If rain levels continues to be this low through the winter, next year there won’t be enough available drinking water in the Galil.

The maximum capacity of the lake is 208.8 meters below sea level (“upper red line”), at which point the Dagan Dam is opened and water is fed into the Jordan River.

Once the water reaches below 213 meters below sea level (“lower red line”), ecological damage to the lake begins, and pumping from the lake is forbidden.

The Kinneret’s water level currently sits at 214.39 meters below sea level, which is below the lower red line.

The lowest measured level it has ever dropped is to 214.87 meters below sea level, which is also below the level of the water intake pipes.

Israel is a world leader in desalination and water reclamation. Reclaimed water is used for agriculture and not for drinking.

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