Rejoice, fellow Sea of Galilee watchers of all faiths, the planet’s lowest fresh water lake, which the geography textbooks say is 208.8 meters (685.039 feet) below sea level (sea level being the Mediterranean), on Shabbat continued to rise to its appointed “full” point, adding 2.4 centimeters (0.94 inches) and currently being measured as being 209.20 meters below sea level. And so, a full Kinneret is missing 40 centimeters – that’s 15.7 inches to you and me.
Daily monitoring of the Kinneret’s water level began in 1969, and the lowest level recorded since then was in November 2001, which today constitutes the “black line” of 214.87 meters below sea level (although it is believed the water level had fallen lower than the current black line, during droughts earlier in the 20th century).
The Israeli government monitors water levels and publishes the results daily at this web page. The level over the past eight years can be retrieved from that site. Increasing water demand in Israel, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as dry winters, have resulted in stress on the lake and a decreasing water line to dangerously low levels at times. The Sea of Galilee is at risk of becoming irreversibly salinized by the salt water springs under the lake, which are held in check by the weight of the freshwater on top of them.
With extreme drought conditions continuing to intensify, the government of Israel approved a plan in 2018 to pump desalinated water into the lake in an effort to stop the water level from plunging below a point where irreversible ecological damage to the lake might take place.
But since the beginning of the 2019 winter, the Kinneret has risen considerably.