Despite the historic winter storm that struck the region in mid-December, the Sea of Galilee’s water level only rose 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) over the past month.
Last month’s rainfall was paltry compared to the 50-centimeter increase in December 2012, which started the wettest winter recorded since 1994. Another 2.49 meters (about 8 feet) stand between the Sea of Galilee’s current levels and the “upper red line,” Israel’s Hydrological Service announced Sunday.
The upper red line, 208.9 meters below sea level, is the level at which the Degania Dam is opened to allow an increased flow of water into the Jordan River to prevent the lake from overflowing its banks and flooding and the city of Tiberias and other towns along its coast.
The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s main source of fresh water.
In the past two decades, Israel has experienced several successions of arid winters, exacerbating existing concerns that the country was overdrawing from its largest freshwater lake.
Several desalination plants have been established along the coastline in recent years, with others in the pipeline, but despite being an international leader in this area, Israel still relies on rain for most of its water needs.