After five years in a row of severe drought, Israeli water authority Mekorot is beginning an ambitious project to refill the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The plan involves pumping water from the Eshkol water filtration plant and two huge reservoirs in the Bet Netofa valley to the Kinneret, a distance of 14 miles. The project is estimated to cost over $85 million.
The lack of water in Israel has been exacerbated in recent years, becoming a major concern. Rainfall has fallen to half its 1948 average, while the population has grown ten-fold. The situation is indeed dire and experts say that if this year’s rainfall continues to fall short of expectations, there will be a lack of drinking water next year in many areas in the Galilee.
With 60 percent of the country being desert, Israel has had to become a pioneer in water management and technology. As part of this effort, the Eshkol facility was built in 2007. It is the fourth largest water filtration plant in the world. Until now, it has served as a hub, filtering water coming from the Kinneret before distributing it to the rest of the country. The new project will reverse the process, sending filtered water back to the Kinneret.
The Kinneret makes up 30 percent of Israel’s water supply but when the level of the Kinneret reaches 213 meters below sea level, known as the lower red line, pumping water from the lake is forbidden. The Kinneret’s water level is currently 214.39 meters below sea level and no water is being pumped from the lake.
The lowest level recorded was 214.87 meters below sea level in 2001. This is known as the black line and if water is drawn when the black line is reached, permanent damage will be caused to the Kinneret.