Water Crisis Worst in 80 Years

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel is facing its worst water crisis in 80 years, according to Uri Shani, head of Mekerot, Israel's national water authority.

"This is the worst crisis since records started being kept 80 years ago," Shani told reporters onduring a press conference Tuesday.

"Like most countries, Israel is dependent on rainfall, and the amount of rainfall is decreasing. There is a drop of 100 million cubic meters per year," he said.

On Monday, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel's sole source of sweet water, dropped beyond its lowest limit of 213 meters -- about 700 feet -- below sea level.

Water Authority experts believe that the lake may reach its "black line," the low point that could mean irreversible damage, by year's end.

The coastal aquifer has already dropped below its black line, which Shani said would herald rapid and possibly irreversible damage.

In addition to pumping water from tributaries feeding the Kinneret, Mekerot said the nation's two operational desalination plants are working to increase their output and the Water Authority would work to clean up water in polluted wells.

The price of water will nearly double and homeowners and outdoor watering curtailed accordingly.

The price increase plus a 1 billion shekel ($325 million) government allotment over the next five years will allow Mekerot to boost spending on desalination, salvaging waste water for agriculture and infrastructure.

Shani said without overly abundant winter rains, the next two years could be even worse. Tuesday's press conference kicked off a PR campaign to urge everyone to conserve water.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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