Oct 23, 2017

Israel's water worries return after four years of drought

Sea of Galilee
by
Ari Rabinovitch
,
Reuters
A dry agricultural field is seen in the Hula Valley, northern Israel October 23, 2017. Photo: Amir Cohen, Reuters
A dry agricultural field is seen in the Hula Valley, northern Israel October 23, 2017. Photo: Amir Cohen, Reuters

It was a source of national pride - technology and discipline besting a crippling lack of water.

But four years of drought have overtaxed Israel’s unmatched array of desalination and wastewater treatment plants, choking its most fertile regions and catching the government off-guard.

“No one imagined we would face a sequence of arid years like this, because it never happened before,” said Uri Schor, spokesman for Israel’s Water Authority.

The Sea of Galilee, technically a lake near the border with Syria, is forecast to hit its lowest level ever before winter rains come, despite the fact that pumping there was massively reduced. Underground aquifers, the other main freshwater source, are nearing levels that will turn them salty.

...

In the Middle East, one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, water is also the subject of wider tensions. Intense pressure on already scarce water resources could lead to an increase in migration and the risk of conflict, the World Bank has warned.