CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The fourth winter with below-average rainfall has left Israel in the throes of a major water deficit. Water Authority officials say it's the most acute water crisis in a decade.
The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the nation's only source of sweet water, is almost 2 feet lower than it was last year at this time and nearly 10 feet lower than it was four years ago.
Mekerot (Israel Water Authority) officials warn that by the end of the long, hot summer months, the main water sources will likely drop below the safe minimum levels, compromising water quality.
Water quality in the coastal and mountain aquifers has already been contaminated with salt because of the increasingly low levels of fresh water.
Domestic Water Consumption Rising
Along with the lack of sufficient winter rains, domestic consumption is rising by 4 percent annually.
Water service operations manager Tami Shor said scarce winter rains prompted people to use more water for their lawns and gardens, which has further depleted limited resources.
"We'll raise water rates for gardening and enforce regulations forbidding watering gardens from November to April, allowing watering only from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the rest of the time," said Shor.
Meanwhile, Mekerot plans to drill for water in the Hula Valley area and east Galilee. If successful, that water will be piped to the Kinneret and the National Water Carrier. Shor says it will also increase water production at the nation's desalination plants.
Water expert Dr. Peretz Dar believes if Mekerot would have implemented the water conservation plan he submitted several years ago, the water deficit could have been greatly reduced.
"The water crisis is entirely our own doing," said Dr. Dar. "The government allocated funds for desalination plants but failed to allocate resources for conservation. We could have reduced consumption by 10 percent and covered a large part of the accumulated deficit in the Kinneret and [coastal] aquifers," he said.
Meanwhile, Mekorot's operating committee plans to meet next week to formulate plans for the looming water crisis.