After this year's above average rainfall, the Israel Water Authority has already said that it intends to open the Degania dam at the southern end of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to release the surplus water down the Jordan River in order to prevent flooding. The Kinneret is currently just less than one meter below the upper red line of 208.87 meters below sea level.
Two weeks ago, the Water Authority announced that it would bring forward the opening of the dam to late February if the water level reached 50 centimeters below the red line, which will almost certainly not happen, or in late March if the Kinneret reaches 20 centimeters below the red line by then.
Opening the Degania dam, however, is not the only solution for preventing floods if the Kinneret reaches above the red line. Another solution, forgotten in the excitement over the possible opening of the dam, is renewing fully pumping water from the Kinneret.
The pumping solution is probably also advantageous for Israel's water consumers. Water sector sources said that increasing the amount of water pumped from the Kinneret at the expense of the amount provided by desalination facilities would save up to NIS 250 million, equivalent to 2.5% of the water rate. The Water Authority, on the other hand, opposes this proposal, arguing that pumping water from the Kinneret will not make water any cheaper for consumers.
The Water Authority says that its main consideration is not opening the Degania dam, but increasing the replacement of the water in the Kinneret. The reason is that the quality of the water in the Kinneret decreases according to the time that the water is in the lake, like stale water in an aquarium. The sources say that opening the Degania dam is a last resort, to be used only if there are no customers for the water.
Potential customers for water from the Kinneret are not lacking. Water from the Kinneret is currently used as drinking water for residents of Tiberias and the communities in the Jordan Valley. Until 2015, 175 million cubic meters of water were pumped annually from the Kinneret into the National Water Carrier. Since the water level dropped in 2015, however, the amount pumped was reduced to a minimum of 30 million cubic meters a year.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 24, 2020
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