(JNS.org) Israel’s Sea of Galilee, also known as the Kinneret, hit an all-time-low recorded water level in May, prompting concerns about Israel’s largest freshwater lake.
According to Israel’s Water Authority, the Sea of Galilee lost 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) of its water level in May, decreasing the level to 9 million cubic meters (318 million cubic feet), an all-time low since recording began in 1920.
The situation in the Sea of Galilee has deteriorated in recent years, as Israel’s north faces an ongoing drought. Hydrologists estimate that the water level will drop by a meter (3.3 feet) before the rainy season begins in November.
The Sea of Galilee has played a prominent role in both Jewish and Christian history, with much of Jesus’s early ministry centered around the shores of the lake, according to the Christian Gospels.
For modern Israel, the Sea of Galilee has played a key role in providing water for personal and agricultural use throughout most of the country’s history, following the completion of the Israeli National Water Carrier in 1964. Yet in recent years, Israel has substantially invested in water conservation, reclamation and desalination technology, allowing the Jewish state to significantly reduce its use of water from the Sea of Galilee.
Nevertheless, the lack of water flow into the Sea of Galilee has led to deep concern over the lake’s vitality, as the drop in water levels causes the salinity of the lake to rise, threatening marine life.
The Water Authority said the low level “will lead to further withdrawal of water from the shores of the Sea of Galilee and to various environmental and ecological phenomena.”
The low water level also poses a risk for the Dead Sea, which receives water from the lake through the Jordan River, under the terms of an Israeli-Jordanian agreement. The Dead Sea’s water levels have also been dropping by a meter each year.