Israel Meteorological Service data indicate that the country has entered a drought year, showing that the annual rainfall stands at only about 71 percent of the cross-year average.
Due to the worrying situation, the Water Authority is mulling over a plan to pump tens of millions of cubic meters of desalinated water into the Kinneret in order to prevent it from drying up.
A drought is formally announced by a joined committee of the ministries of agriculture and finance, after they have identified certain areas that were harmed by it—for compensation purposes. But by the standards of climate organizations and the Water Authority, a year that had rainfall of less than 80 percent of the cross-year average is considered a drought year.
Data show that in the Kinneret area, as well as areas from which rainfall flows into the Kinneret, rainfall was measured at only 70 percent of the average. The low point was measured in the Shfela region, which experienced only 50 percent of the cross-year rainfall average.
The shortage of water in the lake is causing an increase of salt levels in the water and could lead to environmental degradation and render the water unusable for irrigation or drinking.
Israel is not suffering from water shortages thanks to its desalination facilities, though there is no guarantee that the facilities will be able to keep up with demands. This is the fourth year in a row that the northern region is hit by drought, and the results can be seen in the sad state of the Kinneret and the area's streams and springs.
The forecast for the coming years is a continuous decline in rainfall in the northern region, so even if the country won't experience a drought, there will still be a shortage of water flow into the Kinneret.
The Water Authority has been trying unsuccessfully in recent years to get approval for a new desalination facility in the north, which will serve as an additional emergency water source for the Kinneret, but local residents have been pushing back against the plan.
With the looming danger of the Kinneret's declining water levels that could lead to degradation in the quality of its water, the Water Authority is also examining a plan to pump up to 50 million cubic meters of desalinated water into the lake in next winter, should the desalination facilities have a surplus of unused water.
There are a few potential problems with this plan. The plan is to get the water into the lake via the Tzalmon Stream, but the water might percolate into the stream bed without reaching the lake.
Another possible problem is that the desalinated water lacks basic minerals, and research is still needed to conclude what sort of effect it could have on the lake and the local fauna and flora.
The low water levels have already led the Water Authority to almost completely halt all drawing of water from the lake.
(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)