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Water, Water – Hardly Anywhere!

Excerpt from an article by Arieh Stav in Outpost (Sept. ’99), a publication of Americans for a Safe Israel.

Israel is a semi-arid country with an annual water supply averaging about 350 cm [per] person. The minimum recommended by the UN is 500 cm. Hence, even today, Israel is below the minimum recommended standard. The water potential of western Israel is 1.8 billion cm, which is divided among a population numbering approximately 8 million. This means that the water supply per person is rapidly decreasing because while the population is growing at an accelerated pace, the water supply remains constant. The three main water sources, exploited to the last drop, are the Sea of Galilee basin, the mountain aquifer and the coastal aquifer. This supply serves agriculture, industry and homes. On average, therefore, we are speaking of 225 cm per person as opposed to 1,200 cm in Egypt, 2,000 in Syria and 20,000 in the United States. Suffice it to say that the average water supply in Israel which must serve agriculture, industry and homes is approximately equivalent to the amount allotted for watering gardens in California.

Relinquishing the Golan to Syria means yielding 70% of the Sea of Galilee basin, the only above-ground aquifer in western Israel, which supplies the Transpipeline, the lifeline of the Jewish state. Loss of territorial control over the Sea of Galilee’s sources – the Golan rivers – and their partial impounding by the Syrians will lower the Sea of Galilee to a level at which irreparable harm will be caused to the lake.

The mountain aquifer, which supplies approximately 600 million cm, will for the most part be under the territorial jurisdiction of the Palestinian state which possesses no other water sources. Four hundred million cm of the mountain aquifer’s waters are directed to the coastal plain annually. According to international law, Israel can perpetuate the present situation, leaving the Palestinian Authority with 200 cm [at current population levels]... But is it really possible to imagine that the Arabs of Judea and Samaria will allow most of the water in their jurisdiction to flow uninterrupted to the Jews living in the adjacent lowlands?

The coastal aquifer, located almost completely within the Green Line, supplies 400 million cm annually, though most of the water is polluted by industrial sewage and excessive salination and therefore is unfit for drinking and is directed primarily to industry and agriculture.

Hence, the State of Israel within the 1949 borders will relinquish most of the water under its control and be left with a sewage canal. The solutions recommended are desalination, importing water from Turkey or Yugoslavia, towing icebergs from the North Pole and liquidating agriculture, which utilizes 1.2 billion cm annually. . . . The default option will therefore be the liquidation of agriculture, which is already in its early stages.

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The Jewish National Fund’s chairman said, "An equitable sharing of scarce water resources has to be a central pillar of an overall negotiated peace settlement between Israel and her Arab neighbors."


Kinneret Near Red Line

From The Jerusalem Post article by David Rudge

For the first time in recent history, the water level in the Kinneret is set to reach the red line and even drop below it.

"I cannot remember the lake ever being this low, and I am not aware of it reaching the red line on any other occasion since recordings of the level began," said Shlomo Bahaloul, who recently retired as deputy chairman of the Lake Kinneret Authority after 30 years in various posts.

Bahaloul, who is still head of the authority’s personnel department, said the situation is critical and ‘extremely sad.’

The red line of 213 meters below sea level was set as the mark below which the water in the Kinneret could not be allowed to drop for fear that this would cause irreparable damage to the lake’s ecosystem.

According to Bahaloul, even in the autumn of 1991 – when the level reached the then-lowest recorded mark – it was still between 20 cm. And 30 cm. above the red line.

"I can only hope that what happened in the winter of ‘91-’92, when we had so much rain that it filled the lake to overflowing, will occur again in the coming winter," he said. "If, however, we only have average or less than average rainfall, the situation of the lake will remain critical throughout next summer, and that is something I would prefer not to think about."

. . . The depleted state of the Kinneret is only too apparent. At the northern end, where the Jordan River flows into the lake, the delta has dried up. . .

At the southern end, opposite Kibbutz Ma’agan, an island has been exposed several hundred meters from shore, and it is getting larger as the level continues to fall.

The depleted state of the lake is also causing problems for fishermen and tour boat operators. Furthermore, regulations will have to be changed to enable farmers and others to continue to pump water once the red-line has been reached. -

"Something apocalyptic would need to occur on the ground in order for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to go back and take responsibility for any part whatsoever of the autonomous territories" – (Israeli Press Brief)