05/13/2011 04:57

Even after the most productive April since 2003, Water Authority warns that the country is still in a critical situation regarding water consumption.

As the country continues to get inundated with unseasonable rainfall, the Water Authority warns that the country is still in a critical situation regarding water consumption, even after the most productive April since 2003, according to statistics released this week by the Authority.

Nationwide, precipitation accumulation has only reached 89 percent of average levels, according to the data, which compared the results to last year’s rainfalls, and analyzed the country’s overall condition at the conclusion of this year’s rainy season.

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While rainfall for April – particularly in the North – has exceeded typical amounts for the month, and Israel Meteorological Services predicts even more showers for this weekend, the Water Authority maintains that citizens should not become complacent about their water consumption.

“Of course the moment you get rain in April and May, it releases you from irrigating agriculture. That itself saves a lot of water – but the water situation is still very, very critical,” Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post.

“First of all, we have not reached the average. Second, the demand for water in Israel is larger than the average amount of natural rainfall that we receive in the winter, and third, we are currently following six years of drought. Therefore, the water reserves are empty,” Schor said.

Rainfall into Lake Kinneret was successful both this April and March in comparison to last year, but total water accumulation for the region’s entire rainy season did not fare as well, according to the Water Authority.

Kinneret water levels increased this April by 31 centimeters, compared to a rise of 4 cm. during the same month last year. Meanwhile, the volume of water available in the same month amounted to 60 million cubic meters, exceeding last April’s accumulation of 27, as well as the April average of 47

In comparison, however, the total available water amassed in the Kinneret throughout the entire season was only 297, compared to last year’s 330, and the annual average of 338, according to the Water Authority report.

While Schor previously predicted that the Kinneret levels would fall below the basin’s bottom red line by the end of May, he now estimates that this drop might be delayed by another month due to the recent and developing rainfall.

“But toward the end of the summer we will nearly reach the black line,” said Schor, noting that the black line is located at 214.87 meters below sea level, while the bottom red line stands at 213 meters below sea level.

April precipitation was particularly high in the Western Galilee, where quantities exceeded the typical average by three times, according to authority statistics. In central Israel’s basins, water levels reached average values for the first time during this year’s rainy season, the report said.

Meanwhile, the April water flow rate in the Dan, Banias and Tananim springs, all located in the North, was high compared to the parallel period last year.

“This year the rain was mainly in the North, and in the Center and South it wasn’t rainy enough,” Schor said.

Outside the North, for example, the Dead Sea water level in April decreased by 6 cm. in April, after a similar drop in March, leaving the saline body standing at 424.44 m. below sea level.

Groundwater levels throughout the country also experienced an overall rise in April, with a 13 cm. rise in the southern portion of the Yarkon-Tanimin Aquifer; but 8 cm. and 2 cm. drops in its northern and central segments, respectively. The Mediterranean Coastal Aquifer rose 4 cm. at its southern tip, remained stable in its center and dropped slightly in its northern segment.

While these statistics seem to indicate a stronger performance in southern versus northern areas, Schor said that this is not actually the case, as the results are only measured after the authority has pumped water out of individual segments for consumer use – a process that usually occurs in the northern portions.

“The water system is very efficient here in Israel. You receive your water from the taps – a combination drawn from the Sea of Galilee, the Coastal Aquifer, Mountain Aquifer and even desalination plants, which comes together into a main pump,” Schor said. “This gives us the possibility to pump different amounts of water from every source, depending on the hydrological situation at each one. For instance, you can get water in your house even if no one pumps water from the Kinneret.

“April was better than usual, and presumably May will be too, as we are expecting to get rain this weekend as well,” Schor said, warning, however, that “we look at the situation as a whole.”