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Sea of Galilee nears maximum capacity for first time in 30 years

The freshwater lake has seen wide fluctuations in its level over the past few years

Illustrative: View of the Hukok Beach, Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, as rain begins to fall, on December 18, 2021. (Tzachi Gavish/Kinneret Cities Association)
Illustrative: View of the Hukok Beach, Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, as rain begins to fall, on December 18, 2021. (Tzachi Gavish/Kinneret Cities Association)

The Sea of Galilee on Tuesday neared its upper red line threshold, sitting only 32 centimeters (13 inches) below its maximum capacity — which it has not reached in 30 years.

The water level is now 0.32 meters (13 inches) below the upper red line, or 209.12 meters (686 feet) below sea level. The upper red line is 208.8 meters (685 feet) below sea level. The lake — the Sea of Galilee is actually a lake — is now 3.88 meters above the lower red line, the level at which water quality declines and causes damage to the ecological balance.

The water levels of the Sea of Galilee have seen dramatic highs and perilous lows in recent years. Only six years ago, the situation was extremely bleak.

On April 4, 2016, the lake level was 3.29 meters (11 feet) lower than today. The level measured at that time was 212.41 meters (697 feet) below sea level, or 3.61 meters (12 feet) below the upper red line.

The Sea of Galilee is Israel’s largest freshwater lake, and while it is no longer used as the main source of drinking water, it is still seen as a significant gauge of seasonal rainfall.

Even though the Sea of Galilee is nearing its maximum capacity, there are failsafes to prevent flooding. If the water level exceeds the upper red line, the Israel Water Authority opens the Deganya dam, located at the southern end of the lake.

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