Israel to top up shrinking Sea of Galilee with desalinated water

AFP

3 min read
An aerial view shows the Jordan River estuary of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, on December 8, 2017.
AP Photo/Oded BaliltyAn aerial view shows the Jordan River estuary of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, on December 8, 2017.

'Every 30 years we double the population. Without this project, it would be an awful situation'

Israel is planning to pump excess output from its desalination plants into the Sea of Galilee, which is depleted by overuse and threatened by climate change.

Irregular rainfall, rising temperatures, and intensive pumping have overtaxed the world's lowest freshwater lake in Israel’s north, which is the Jewish state's main sweetwater reservoir.

Israel now plans to tackle the challenge by reversing the water flow through its vast network of pumps, pipes, and tunnels dating to the 1960s, according to the National Water Carrier.

Authorities hail the project as a showcase for Israel's cutting-edge desalination and water management technology, which can also help deepen ties with arid Arab states.

Critics charge that Israel short-changes Palestinians out of their fair share of water, leaving much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip facing severe water stress.

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Environmentalists also note that the more Israel relies on fossil fuels to power its desalination plants, the more its carbon emissions will worsen climate change.

For now, however, experts say that urgent action is needed to brace the country for global warming coupled with rapid population growth.

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A wet winter in Israel just topped up the lake, but its level dipped substantially in the drought years of 2014-2018, a potential harbinger of worse to come.

Israel's rapidly growing population adds to the need for the new water infrastructure project, according to Noam Halfon, a researcher at the Israel Meteorological Service.

"Every 30 years we double the population. Without this project, it would be an awful situation."

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