A test conducted Wednesday revealed that the Dead Sea rose 10 centimeters since its last monthly measurement, the first recorded increase in volume for the iconic and endangered body of water in 10 years.
The higher level is the result of runoff from the fierce storm that swept across Israel last week, bringing record levels of rainfall and causing the Sea of Galilee to rise by some 70 centimeters, with more expected after the winter runoff.
The Dead Sea is fed by the Jordan River as well as a series of streams running from the Judean Hills, many of which experienced heavy flooding last week.
Pumping from the Sea of Galilee, which feeds the Jordan River, along with the diversion of water to the Dead Sea Works factory and the extremely arid climate have all contributed to a sharp drop in the level of the Dead Sea — over 20 meters since the 1970s.
On Tuesday, in a long-awaited report, the World Bank approved the feasibility of a canal and desalination system that which would in theory save the Dead Sea.
The Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian project would cost nearly $10 billion, and is opposed by environmental groups because of potential damage to the surrounding desert area.
The initiators of the project hope to use water flowing from the Red Sea northward, down to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth), to drive hydroelectric plants, which would in turn power desalination stations and produce drinking water for the regional partners.
The highly saline by-product would continue on to finally replenish the depleted Dead Sea, where the receding waters pose a serious danger by causing sinkholes along the shores of the sea.
The plan, conceived in 1998, was hailed as a great example of regional cooperation; however, the project has been fraught with problems. In early December, Jordan reportedly backed out of the project, citing financial concerns.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.