01/04/2011 05:04

Despite reduced pumping, Israel’s “national lake” has dropped back down to last year’s level due to drier winters.

The years 2001 to 2010 treated Lake Kinneret particularly poorly, the Water Authority said Monday. Moreover, according to its summary of 2010, Lake Kinneret has dropped back down to last year’s water level because of the severe lack of rain despite the state having reduced pumping this year.

Except for a few major showers at the beginning and the end of the year, Lake Kinneret’s water levels steadily dropped from May to December. Despite pumping less water out of the lake, the water level has dropped to what it was last year and is now significantly below the bottom red line. In fact, the water level rested below the bottom red line for most of the year, with the exception of the months of March to June.

So far, only about 60 percent of the average rain has fallen on the Kinneret, the Water Authority said.

Summarizing the decade, the Water Authority said that 2010 caps a horrendous 10 years of below average rainfall. The average water volume in the lake was 327 million cubic meters a year – the lowest average for a decade since the 1920s. The rain-filled years of 2002/3 and 2003/4 were the exception to the other eight years of the decade.

While the Kinneret rose 12 cm. in the last storm, it has only reached 214.02 below sea level. That’s a mere 86 cm. from the black line which spells irreparable damage to the reservoir. Mekorot forecasts indicate the black line will be reached this summer if there are no more significant rainfall events.

The National Infrastructures Ministry is set to present an emergency water plan to the cabinet in the coming weeks. Through a mixture of more desalination, well-digging and other measures, the plan outlines the way to produce an extra 210 million cubic meters by 2014.

Given the lack of rainfall and the prospect of a continuing lack of rain, the government has switched to a desalination- focused strategy to augment the increasingly meager natural sources.