Sea of Galilee reaches near-record high

After periods of low water levels that alarmed ecologists, Sea of Galilee now enjoying near record-high water volume.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Northern Israel’s largest body of water, the biblical Sea of Galilee, reached near-record levels on Wednesday, with its water sitting just 32 centimeters, or 13 inches, beneath its maximum capacity upper-red line.

Referred to as the Kinneret in Hebrew, this is the first time in almost 30 years that the freshwater lake has reached this level after periods of perilously low-water volume that alarmed ecologists and conservationists.

Currently, the Sea of Galilee is measured at slightly under 209.12 meters (686 feet) below sea level.

Just five years ago in 2017, the lake’s water was measured at 1.10 meters (3.6 feet) below the lower red line, indicating dangerous levels of water loss.

At the time, Doron Markel, director of the Sea of Galilee division at the Water Authority, told media that the lake would never recover. “We’re now in a permanent situation of climate change,” he said.

“This is not a period of ‘a dry season, and afterwards we’ll have a rainy season.’ It’s not like the times of Pharaoh, where seven years of plenty come before seven years of drought.”

Fortunately, Markel’s prediction was proven incorrect.

According to a Globes report, an unusually wet winter is partially to thank for the abundance of water. Heavy rainfall, as well as melting snow from Mt. Hermon, caused the water level to rapidly rise during February and March.

In just one week in mid-March, the lake’s water level rose by a staggering 10 centimeters (3.9 inches).

If the water level rises any higher, authorities from the Israel Water Authority could open the lake’s southern Degania dam in order to mitigate the risk of flooding.

The dam, which allows water from the Sea of Galilee to flow downwards to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, was last opened three decades ago, in 1992.

During the early days of the Jewish state, the Sea of Galilee served as an important source of drinking water for nearby communities as well as for the rest of Israel.

Today, some 10 percent of Israel’s water supply comes from the lake.

As part of the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, Israel supplies the Hashemite kingdom with some 50 million m3 (1.8 billion cu ft) of water from the Sea of Galilee annually.