Israel no longer thirsty after rains, minister says

Israel no longer thirsty after rains, minister says

Energy and water chief Uzi Landau tells cabinet that the recent storm swept the country out of its water crisis

Uzi Landau (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)
Uzi Landau (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

After several years of drought, Israel’s water needs are finally quenched, Minister Uzi Landau said Sunday, citing heavy rains from the week before that helped fill the Sea of Galilee.

Israel suffered its heaviest storm in decades last week, with large amounts of rain and snow being dumped around the country. The Sea of Galilee, the country’s largest freshwater reservoir, swelled to its highest point since 1994.

Landau, the water and energy minister, told the weekly cabinet meeting that by the middle of last week 130 percent of the annual average had fallen in the wettest start to a winter for decades.

The rise in lake level comes after nearly a decade of below-average rainfall, which plundered Israel’s water reserves and led to a sharp increase in the cost of the wet stuff. A price hike went into effect at the beginning of January.

Landau said the country had emerged from a period of crisis into a period of stability.

Though the rain petered out on Thursday, over the weekend the level of the Sea of Galilee rose by 13 centimeters, adding up to 84 centimeters gained since the start of the storm over a week ago.

In total, the lake is now 1.93 meters above the lower red line and 2.27 meters below the upper red line, beyond which the lake’s floodgates must be opened to prevent flooding.

The reservoir may rise an additional 45 centimeters as the rest of the snow that fell in the north melts and runs into the lake, Globes reported.

The bumper rainfall has already poured over 100 million tons of water into the Sea of Galilee. Inadequate rainfall in previous years had left the water level in the lake at record lows.

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